FEATURE — More than 62 percent of Americans believe that they’d be prepared if their car were to break down on the road; however, a new survey suggests that on average, drivers carry just four out of the eight emergency items recommended by the Utah Department of Motor Vehicles.
This is in spite of the fact almost half of all drivers in the U.S. reported that they have broken down at least once in the last five years — a figure that rises to 51 percent among younger drivers aged 16-34.
The eight recommended items to keep in your car include the following:
- Spare tire and/or a tire inflator sealer.
- Tire-changing tools.
- Jump leads/cables.
- First aid kit.
- Water bottle.
- Tool kit.
The survey, conducted by the personal injury law firm Siegfried & Jensen at the beginning of October, found that 73 percent of drivers keep a spare tire and/or tire inflator sealer in the car, approximately half have a flashlight, 45 percent have a first aid kit and just 12 percent have flares.
Here are the most common items in drivers’ cars — some essential, some not-so-essential:
- Registration and insurance certificate.
- Car manual.
- Pen or pencil.
- Spare tire and/or tire inflator sealer.
- Tire-changing tools.
- USB charger.
- Windshield ice scraper.
The survey found that less than a quarter of respondents keep paper maps in the car, and only 11 percent have a satellite navigation system, suggesting drivers are relying on cellphones for directions. But as signals drop in remote areas and phone batteries die after several hours, handheld devices can prove to be both unreliable and unsafe.
Just 6 percent of drivers keep an empty gas can in their car, while 9 percent have a small shovel. Other uncommon but useful items most drivers are choosing not to carry are a fire extinguisher, tow rope and high-visibility safety vest.
“This research goes to show how gravely underprepared drivers are for accidents on the road,” Ned Siegfried, president of Siegfried & Jensen, said in a news release. “Some 62 percent of respondents believed they would be prepared in the event of a breakdown, but this misplaced confidence suggests there isn’t enough being done to educate drivers about how to get their vehicles ready.”
Siegfried also said it’s important to anticipate accidents, particularly in the winter when temperatures drop and waits for breakdown services will likely be longer than usual.
“Although getting lost without access to a map or being stuck on the side of the road for a couple of hours can be a minor annoyance,” he said, “it’s crucial to prepare for more serious accidents for the safety of all road users.”
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