This first story is only loosely tied in with the theme of this article, but for some odd reason it has always made me think about packing cars safely; and the story teller was very animated and thinking about it makes me chuckle.
I kid I knew in high school told me about an interesting experience. In their senior year he and a group of his friends took and van and drove from Idaho to Disney Land in California. On the return trip while driving on the freeway through Nevada the driver was swapping CDs and started to veer off the road; when he realized what was happening he over corrected and the entire van ended up rolling and coming to land on its back. The kid told me that he was asleep on the back seat at the moment the vehicle began to roll and he ended up suspended in midair amongst the trash and fast food wrappers on the ground; he emphasized that there was a lot of rubbish. The vehicle landed and came to a stop leaving him literally buried in the trash as he was the only unbelted person in the van at that time. Fortunately they all got out with just a few bumps and bruises and were actually able to have a good laugh about it; but it illustrates a wonderful point, what if all that trash had been more than just paper, cardboard, and foam?
In the military we have these great rollover trainers build with the interior of HMMWVs (high mobility multi wheeled vehicles) and MRAPs (mine resistant ambush protected). The personnel inside have the task of securing rigid foam ammo cans and radios, and other equipment and then they strap themselves in. The trainer is rotated in different directions and spun around to simulate a rollover experience. The troops then have to unharness themselves from their seat restraints and find the best route of escape. It’s actually quite a bit of fun. One of the things the trainers are looking for along with extractions and security is how well you have restrained and secured your equipment.
All military vehicles have internal restraint strapping points for all equipment and for good reason; everything you are driving with is probably metal, angular, and unforgiving. If your military vehicle flips over what happens when the 60 lb. steel ammo can comes flying through the vehicle? Stuff like that can kill a soldier, even with a helmet. What is the civilian application? How many of you, like me, when heading on a vacation, simply pile in all of their luggage without thought about safety. I load the car as my wife packs the suitcases and boxes, so there is little forethought to how things are getting loaded. As a side note, I have great fun these days replicating medieval combat (no foam weapons, that’s a different group of guys) and have picked up oodle loads of injuries in the process. The other day driving home I looked into the back seat of my car and considered what would probably happen if I flipped my car with over 80 lbs. of personal steel armor, loaner armor to hook up the new guys, shields, weapons, and a 38 lb. dome riveted chainmail shirt?
Okay, I hope you guys are normal enough not to be driving around a vehicle with medieval armor in the back seat; but when you head out on vacation come up with a simple load plan. Many cars these days have hooks built in for securing luggage with tie downs and small ratchet straps. It would be a shame to be safely seat belted in, flip a car, and have some hefty fruitcake gift come flying through the vehicle and punch a hole through your skull.
From theaa.com (no not alcoholics anonymous), Loading your car; I extracted a few tidbits about safely packing the inside of a car:
Make sure everything is secure
“Stuff sliding around or tipping over whenever you brake or turn will be irritating at best and dangerously distracting at worst. A box, bag or plant may be better wedged into a rear foot-well rather than left sliding around in an otherwise empty boot. Empty boxes or plastic crates can be useful in the boot to stop smaller loads sliding around – or shopping bags spilling at the first corner. Keep the parcel shelf clear. Loose items like a first-aid kit or golf umbrella will fly forwards in a crash and could seriously injure someone in the car. In fact, any loose object in the car can become a dangerous projectile in a crash. Keep the front foot-wells clear. Loose items rolling about on the floor are distracting and very dangerous if under the driver’s feet or pedals.”
Keep larger/heavier stuff low down
“It makes packing easier if you put bigger stuff in first and then pack smaller items around. This also helps to keep the center of gravity low and reduce the affect of weight on handling. If you’re loading heavy items like cases of wine/beer or DIY materials, push them tight up against the back of the rear seat. This will reduce the risk of them bursting through in a crash and gives better weight distribution and handling.”