Mercedes-Benz is well known for building extremely safe cars. The motto of “safety first” is one of the brand’s core values, and applies just as much to genuine accessories from Mercedes-Benz Accessories GmbH. Ultimate responsibility for safety, however, lies with the driver, and only drivers who stow sports and leisure equipment and other loads in the proper way can look forward to a safe and enjoyable trip.
Improperly secured loads can have fatal consequences: for example, a bicycle flung from the roof of a car can become a life-threatening projectile for other road users. A drinks crate that is not securely fastened in the boot of an estate car poses a risk for all the occupants.
The kinetic energy released after a frontal impact at 50 km/h would, for example, propel the drinks crate through the car with a force equivalent to that of the weight of a smart fortwo. It is therefore understandable that the German road traffic code (StVO) stipulates that vehicle loads must be properly secured in order to protect both the vehicle occupants and other road users. Those who fail to comply risk a fine, criminal charges and the loss of their insurance cover, and, not least, injury or death.
Always pack heavy items first
Drivers should follow these recommendations to exclude potential sources of hazard. First of all, heavy items should always be put in first and placed up against the rear seat backrest so that they cannot slide about. Care should be taken to ensure that there is no free space between the back of the rear seats and the load, since otherwise heavy, unsecured objects could deform the seats in a collision. The rear seat backrests in Mercedes-Benz vehicles with a variable interior are designed to give top priority to occupant protection. Their solid connection to the vehicle body offers the best possible protection against wayward loads that are propelled forward in a collision. Nevertheless, any items that might slide forward should always be fastened with straps to the rings on the luggage compartment floor. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class estate models, for example, are fitted with six strong load-securing rings: four of these are located on the floor, while the other two are positioned underneath the rear seats. The optional EASY-PACK fastening kit and the Cargo Management System from Mercedes-Benz Accessories GmbH offer additional ways to ensure the safe and secure transport of items both large and small.
Estate cars, compacts and sports tourers should not be loaded any higher than the upper edge of the backrest. The only exception to this rule is if the vehicle is equipped with a stable, crash-tested meshed wire divider. This component, which is also available from Mercedes-Benz Accessories GmbH, extends all the way to the ceiling, providing full protection against flying suitcases and crates. For the same reason, drivers should always remember to close the luggage compartment covers before starting their journey. Many Mercedes-Benz models feature an electric motor which does this automatically.
Small items should also be securely packed
No road maps, umbrellas or other items should be left on the rear shelf during a journey. Sunglasses and mobile phones should not be left on the dashboard, but instead placed in the side compartments in the doors, or else in special holders. Mercedes-Benz Accessories GmbH can provide a whole range of solutions here, ranging from luggage nets to customised holders.
Pets must also be secured in the car to ensure that they do not interfere with the driver. Dogs should be kept in the rear and secured with a special seatbelt for dogs, while cats can be safely transported in a special transport cage that should also be secured with a seatbelt.
Only light luggage should be placed on the roof
Light loads can be placed on the roof, but care must be taken to ensure that the maximum roof load capacity is not exceeded. When in doubt, it makes sense to weigh the load beforehand. Bicycles or snowboards must always be firmly secured to their carrier system. The best components to use here are fixed roof rails or the Mercedes-Benz Alustyle system with fixed point attachment. Drivers should make sure that the load is sitting tightly and that the weight is distributed as evenly as possible. They should also pay close attention to the instructions in the user manual when installing the system. Anyone who is still unsure should contact a specialist at their nearest Mercedes-Benz sales partner. Cargo items and carriers should never extend past the roof, and all bicycle accessories, such as child seats, water bottles or panniers, should be removed from the bike and stowed in the vehicle. In the interests of safety, Mercedes-Benz experts recommend never exceeding the German speed limit of 130 km/h on motorways at any time during the journey.
Cargo stored in the roof boxes must be secured with the fastening equipment provided, since otherwise sharp braking could cause loose items such as skis and snowboards to be propelled forward with sufficient force to break through the box. Here too, it should be ensured that the weight is distributed as evenly as possible. Cargo mounted on the roof will significantly alter a vehicle’s centre of gravity and thus its handling. It is therefore wise to drive at a slighly slower speed if you have a roof box attached.
Regularly check all fastening equipment
Whether you are transporting items on the roof, at the rear or in the interior of the vehicle, all fastening equipment must be regularly checked to ensure it holds articles tightly and securely. Special regulations apply to rear transport. For example, the load may not protrude more than 40 centimetres beyond the side edge of the taillights, or otherwise it must be equipped with an additional red light. All bolt connections and tension straps must be regularly checked for tightness and fit. Drivers should also bear in mind that rear visibility is restricted by loads mounted at the rear, which means they should make greater use of their exterior mirrors. A vehicle’s handling is also affected by a loaded cargo rack at the rear, particularly on bends, in side winds and when braking.