Most people focus on how they can stay safe while they're on the roads. While this is incredibly important, it's not the only environment drivers should be aware of. What about the side of the road? No one wants to think that they could end up stranded there, but it's always a possibility.
Maintaining your vehicle and practicing defensive driving may reduce the odds you wind up stuck on the side of the road, but there's more that you can do to prepare. Make sure you have the knowledge and equipment necessary to battle any car repair you may encounter. Being able to call for roadside assistance is a nice safety net, but drivers who are able to handle minor issues could find that they're in a better position to save money.
Be prepared for anything
Getting stuck or waiting for help may seem like more of a frustrating experience than a dangerous one. However, if you're stranded in extreme conditions or if the problem occurs after dark, you could be facing a host of complications. It's not safe to work on a vehicle in these scenarios, as you're at the mercy of other drivers on the roads, the weather and even wildlife.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles recommended drivers take measures to prepare for situations where they're stranded on the side of the road. Being able to diagnose what's wrong with a vehicle is just the first step. Motorists should have an idea of how to patch up any issues so their car can get to a local auto repair franchise. Regardless of what the damage is, drivers with the right gear can create a safe environment while preventing further problems.
"A driver should also be prepared by having the right equipment," the DMV explained. "An accessory as simple as a hands-free headset can prevent an accident, and items like flares, a supply of fresh water and a first-aid kit can prevent a dangerous situation from worsening."
What you should have
So what should you have in your car to help out with roadside problems? Some accessories will vary based on your location and the season, but there are a few staples you should always have on hand, according to DMV.org. Your emergency kit should have:
- Jumper cables
- A tire patch kit
- A flashlight and batteries
- Spare motor oil
- Duct tape
- Triangle reflectors
- Roadside flares
- A first-aid kit
- Bottled water and nonperishable foods.
While the list may seem extensive, most of the equipment can fit neatly into one box in your trunk. That's good news, as you may need to add to it depending on your circumstances. For instance, in the cold or wet months, you may want to include a tarp. This makes working on a car easier despite snow and rain, and it could protect clothing and other equipment. Ice scrapers and even a small snow shovel might also be a huge help, Bankrate.com noted. Similarly, you should add additional layers and a blanket in case you wind up stuck in cool temperatures for an extended length of time.
Ultimately, you need to pack an emergency kit that prioritizes your safety. Brightly colored spare clothing, reflectors and flares ensure other drivers will see you working on your vehicle. It also increases the odds that professional roadside assistance services will spot you and get you towed to safety quickly. Even if a technician is needed to give you a car tune up or other fix, you can provide a stop-gap that limits damage and keeps everyone safe.