UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020
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Preparation is part of being a responsible driver, but car insurance is only one aspect of being prepared for an accident. Drivers can’t predict when or where an accident will occur, so it’s important to be prepared for the possibility of a collision or mechanical malfunction at all times. From being stranded in a snow storm to handling a fender bender, here are ten supplies that equip drivers for the worst.
- Emergency kit. Many emergency kits are kept in the trunk or rear of a vehicle, but they should be kept in a place the driver can easily access. That may be the trunk, or it may be closer to the driver. First-aid kits are the most common type of emergency kits, but there are also emergency kits designed for breakdowns. These kits include items like jumper cables, work gloves, rain ponchos, and blankets.
- Driving and insurance paperwork. This should go without saying, but drivers must carry their license and proof of insurance everywhere they go. While many drivers choose to keep an insurance card in their wallet, others choose to keep it in their glove compartment, so that it stays with the car rather than the driver. You should decide what works best for you and any other drivers on your policy to make sure no one is ever caught driving without proof of insurance.
- Phone charger and list of emergency numbers.Ideally, your phone will be charged enough to make a few phone calls as needed after a wreck. But wrecks don’t always happen under ideal circumstances, so it’s a good idea to keep a charger for your phone on-hand. It is also helpful to store a list of emergency phone numbers close to the driver’s seat in case a your phone dies or can’t be found or recovered in the vehicle. These numbers can include family members and emergency contacts as well as numbers to your insurance agent or trusted mechanic.
- Escape tool. Not only for superheroes, a single tool can mean the difference between life and death in an accident or natural disaster. The auto escape tool, which is made by many manufacturers and is sold both online and at major retailers, consists of a sharp blade designed to cut through seat belts, and two steel tips designed to break windows. The tool can be attached to a keychain or clip to a visor, for easy access.
- Flashlight. This can be helpful if you get in a wreck at night or somewhere off the beaten path.
- Quick tire fixes. Certain sprays and tools can be applied to small holes or flat parts on tires in order to provide a quick fix until a new tire can be purchased.
- Cones, warning lights, or flares. If an accident occurs, these can be used to signal other drivers to stop or slow down, and are particularly useful if you can’t move your car out of the roadway. Ideally, you will be able to place cones or warning triangles at least 50 feet from your vehicle to warn other drivers.
- Water. Water can be helpful not only for drinking, but can also be poured on an overheating engine in order to keep it from catching fire and causing permanent damage.
- Disposable camera. Even though most people carry smartphones or camera phones now, it is still a good idea to keep a disposable camera in your car in order to document any accidents that occur. You simply can’t be sure you will be able to access your phone or that it will be charged enough whenever an accident occurs, and having a camera on hand is just one more way to protect yourself after an accident.
- Pen and paper. After an accident, you’ll need to write down some crucial information about other drivers involved, such as license, insurance, and car make and model information. Keep a pen and paper handy so that you won’t have to dig for it when you’re already a bit frantic after an accident.