53077639 - driving car on the empty road, travel backgroundHave you ever played Footloose with a free-rolling water bottle while driving? Or maybe looked in the rearview mirror to find a laundry basket blocking every inch of the back window? If so, you may want to consider a cleanup. Texting while driving isn’t the only thing putting people at risk on the nation’s roads. So are cluttered cars.

Cluttered cars? Yes! Those water bottles are getting wedged under brake pedals and making it hard to stop. Those laundry baskets are creating a dangerous game of hide-and-seek with passing cars. And all of those random items that end up in your vehicle can go flying in the event of a sudden stop.

Here are some tips on how to declutter your vehicle to keep your favorite people safe.

  1. Remove as much as possible from your vehicle. Books, toys, trash — they all can become flying projectiles in the event of a sudden stop or crash. Some drivers have sustained severe injuries and even died after colliding with objects such as laptops during a car accident. Keep only what you need in your car and make sure everything is secured or in your trunk.
  2. Collect the trash. Go through your car — don’t forget to look under the seats — and get rid of all nonessential items. Stow away items such as a flashlight in your glove compartment. While you’re in there, make sure your vehicle registration form and proof of insurance is readily available should you be pulled over by law enforcement. It’s no fun having to hunt for your essential documents or realizing that your proof of insurance is expired or your vehicle registration is missing after you’re pulled over.
  3. Set an example. Stop bringing so much stuff into your car, and prevent children from bringing so much into the car themselves. Toys and books can become flying projectiles. Old habits may be hard to break at first, go give everyone time to adjust.
  4. Take the time to address other safety issues. Surprised that clutter can be dangerous? You also may not know that ‘peephole driving’ is a common source of wintertime auto accidents. In wintry weather, accumulations of road grime, salt and ice can impede vision. Visit the car wash more frequently during the winter season and don’t drive unless you can see through your entire windshield. Also, have you had your tires inspected recently? Under-inflated and worn tires are big causes of vehicle crashes year-round.