Whether it’s winter or summer, there are some key items you’ll need in your vehicle all year around to help you stay safe on the road. Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, provides the eight essentials that you should always keep in your vehicle
Note: If you have friends and family who are unaware of advanced driving techniques, please share these tips with them to help them stay safe on the road.
- It’s always best to keep an ice-scraper and can of de-icer in your vehicle as the British weather is so unpredictable, and can be sunny one day and frosty the next.
- Carry an empty fuel can with you. Don’t carry a full or partially full one as this is a fire hazard and if it has recently had fuel in it, flammable vapour may still be present.
- You never know when you’ll need a first aid kit, so keeping one in the boot of your car is always handy for either yourself, or another road user if you’re first on scene at an accident.
- If you’ve broken down on the side of the road, the last thing you want is to be cold and unable to see your way around the dark. That’s why we advise drivers to always keep a torch and set of batteries in their vehicle, along with warm clothes, a blanket and a high visibility jacket. And don’t forget food and drink to stop your energy levels from dropping - bottled water is a must.
- The battery on your car can go flat at any time, whether you’re popping to your local fish and chip shop or picking your vehicle up from the airport carpark after a wonderful sunny holiday. Make sure you keep a set of jump leads in your car so you can start your engine with help from another driver’s vehicle.
- Keep a spare pair of sturdy shoes with a good grip in your car. You’ll need these to turn the wheel brace when changing a tyre, or to push your car if you’ve broken down, or even just to change shoes if there’s a sudden weather change.
- An item that’s often overlooked is the reflective warning triangle. This gives you extra security for a number of reasons such as breaking down in the dark. Put it out in accordance with the rule from the Highway code 274 which advises to “put a warning triangle on the road at least 45 metres (147 feet) behind your broken-down vehicle on the same side of the road, or use other permitted warning devices if you have them. Always take great care when placing or retrieving them, but never use them on motorways.”
- A lot of us use our satnavs to travel to unfamiliar places, but what if your battery dies and you can’t find the charger? Or what if it takes you the wrong way? The best thing to do is to refer back to your trusty road alas, so don’t forget to purchase an up-to-date copy every year and keep it in your car. A good rule of thumb is to take a look at your road map before you set off to get an idea of the direction you need to travel in. Find yourself a place to aim for or motorway signs to look out for.
- Last but not least your mobile phone. Switch it to silent and place it in the glove box to avoid any temptation to touch it, but it will be there ready to use when and if you need it.
Richard says: “A journey can be a pleasant experience with the right planning. But it can turn into a nightmare if circumstances change and you do not have the right tools for the job with you. Getting stranded either in suddenly changing weather conditions, breakdowns or road closures will be made more bearable if you can let people know where you are, and survive in relative comfort and safety until you can get safely where you’re going.”