Has your vehicle become your mobile office? Does the front passenger seat look like your desk, where in some uncomfortable array sit your laptop, cell phone, a notepad, brochures, forms and a newspaper or two? Are there open sample cases rattling around your back seat along with your briefcase?
So what, you ask? Maybe plenty. Maybe you’re looking at the cause of your next auto collision or an injury that you didn’t have to suffer. And we’re not just talking about the really bad idea of multitasking with some of this paraphernalia while you’re driving.
First, there’s the possibility of one of these electronic gizmos becoming a projectile if you slam on the brakes. The car jerks with sudden deceleration, but everything in the passenger compartment not buckled down keeps moving at the same rate of speed you were just driving. Imagine how you’d feel if you avoided a collision, and the only injury you suffer were from being whacked on the head by a seven-pound box hurtling at 55 miles per hour.
An injury caused by clutter may sound like a remote possibility, but it happens more than you may think. According to Safety Research & Strategies, some 13,000 crashes occurred in 2001 in which a loose object injured someone in the vehicle.
But even if you don’t get struck by an unsecured object in your car, there’s another risk: that having it moving around or sliding off the passenger seat will distract you and THAT will cause an auto body accident. Or that a coffee cup rolling around at your feet will get in your way as you try to step on the brakes and … well, you get the picture.
Finally, clutter in your car is just like clutter in any other personal space – all by itself, it can cause stress. A clean, organized vehicle is safer, less distracting and more relaxing than one suffering from clutter.
Here are some ways you can start making your car better for both your body and your mind:
• Secure heavier items in the trunk, where they can’t come into contact with a driver or passenger even if they shift around. Use a cargo net to contain items if you don’t have a trunk.
• Keep your laptop in a traveling case on the floor when you drive, and keep your cell phone safely stashed in your pocket or brief case — you shouldn’t use either of these while driving. Use the center console, map pockets on the inside of your car doors, and the pockets behind your seats to neatly store items you use regularly.
• Invest in a storage box that fits neatly under a seat, or an organizer that hangs from the back of one, to store items you regularly use but can’t be secured anywhere else in the car.
• Get into the habit of cleaning out your vehicle at the end of the day — just two minutes a day can keep it clean and clutter-free.