Here is our checklist of everyday motoring essentials so you can stay safe in your car and on our roads when things go wrong unexpectedly.
1. Make sure you know if your car has runflat tyres, a space saver wheel, a spare wheel or a puncture repair aerosol to deal with a puncture. Chances are you’ll need a locking wheel nut key to remove locking wheel nuts so make sure you know where this is kept. You never know when you might need a new tyre fitting and without this wheel nut key, you, your garage or tyre fitter could be unable to do this. Always check you put this back after a wheel has been removed – sometimes this gets lost (by the garages/fitter) during this process.
2. Keep a fully charged mobile phone handy plus emergency services and insurance contact details as well as any notepad and pen. You never know when you’ll need these to make contact or notes after an accident or motoring incident.
3. Keep an ice-scraper and can of de-icer in your vehicle. We’ve had hailstones in May remember… The British weather is so unpredictable it can be sunny one day and frosty the next, even during spring and autumn months.
4. Carry an empty fuel can with you, just in case you run out of fuel. Not a full or partially full one as this is a fire hazard.
5. Have a first aid kit on board and make sure it contains the sort of things you are familiar with. For example antiseptic wipes, elastoplast, insect sting remedies etc in addition to gauze bandages they usually include. Keep this kit in the boot of the car and know where it is.
6. Always keep a torch and set of batteries in your car, with warm clothes, a blanket and a high visibility jacket in case of a breakdown when it’s cold, wet or dark. Don’t forget food and drink to stop your energy levels from dropping – bottled water is a must.
7. The battery on your car can go flat without notice – whether you’re popping to your local fish and chip shop or picking your vehicle up from the airport car park after a wonderful sunny holiday. Make sure you keep a set of jump leads in your car, and instructions how to use them, so you can start your engine with help from another driver’s vehicle.
8. Keep a spare pair of sturdy shoes in your car – ideally with good grip soles. Chances are you’ll need these to turn the brace if you’re changing a wheel, to push your car if you’ve broken down, or to change into if there’s a sudden change of weather.
9. Make sure you know where your reflective warning triangle is. This gives you extra security for a number of reasons such as breaking down in the dark. Put it out in accordance with Highway Code 274 which states ‘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.’
10. Many of us rely on Satnavs to find unfamiliar places, but what if the signal fails, your battery dies or you can’t find your charger? Or it takes you to the ‘wrong’ destination? The answer is to have an up to date map or atlas in your car. It makes sense to look at your road map before you set off to get an idea of the direction you need to travel in and motorway signs to look out for.
NB: Getting stranded in suddenly changing weather conditions, when your car breaks down or a road closes unexpectably will be made more bearable if you can let people know where you are, and survive in relative comfort and safety until you reach your final destination.