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Christmas-Laden Cars Can Take 25% Longer to Stop


LONDON – December 23, 2009: Motorists travelling in fully laden cars this Christmas are being warned about the dangers of stopping distances.

A typical family car packed with passengers, luggage and gifts could take up to 25%i longer to stop says automotive website, - something few compensate for.

With millions expected to transport their families and friends around the country over the next ten days, Carsite is urging drivers more used to the solo morning commute, to make allowances for the reduced braking performance of a heavier car on icy or wet road surfaces.

Two adults, three children and a boot, or roof box, full of Christmas presents and luggage could add as much as 350kgii to the weight of the typical family car. If forced to stop suddenly, the additional load could increase the car’s stopping distance by more than 25%.

Carsite’s Alistair Jeff said, ‘Even with modern braking technology, the laws of physics still apply. Increase the car’s weight and under the same braking conditions the distance taken to stop will increase at the same rate.”

The typical stopping distance capable for an average car weighing approximately 1,200kg with one driver travelling at 60mph is 73m/240ft or around 18 car lengths.iii Adding 280kg to that car’s weight increases the stopping distance by around 18m or 25%. In wet conditions this distance can double and stopping times on ice and snow are 10 times as much than on dry road conditions.

Jeff added: "The average motorist is simply not used to a fully laden car and how that affects the handling and safety of the vehicle.”

‘Drivers should exercise extra caution before setting off on long journeys with a full load,” explained Ron Waldock, Carsite’s independent RAC inspector. “Check all essential fluid levels and make sure your tyres are correctly inflated with plenty of tread left. On the road give yourself even more room than normal from the car in front and watch for cars driving too close behind.