The number of holiday travelers is up again this year, The Wall Street Journal reports. If you're one of the millions of Americans hitting the road, there are some important things you should keep in your car.
Most cars are full of stuff like discarded takeout containers, old receipts, and discarded sweaters, but relatively few are equipped with emergency provisions. There are many reasons you might find yourself stuck in your car, so it's important to make sure you have the necessary items on hand.
Most of these are small enough to fit in the glove compartment or tuck under the seats. Keep them all on hand and you'll be ready for anything:
- Proof of car insurance. Most states require all drivers to carry insurance. If you get stopped without it, you could lose your license until you prove that you have coverage. Don't let that happen to you. Keep a copy in the glove box.
- Doctor's information. Getting your medical records quickly during an accident or medical emergency can mean better care in the hospital.
- Accident checklist. Right after an accident, it's hard to know what to do first. Take advantage of FindLaw's free checklist entitled Motor Vehicle Accidents: First Steps so you know exactly what actions to take. Keep a copy of the checklist in your car, and use it to make sure your legal rights are protected.
- Flashlight. Even in daylight, you may need this to check under seats for your lost cell phone or to look under the car for a leak. Don't forget spare batteries!
- Car cell phone charger. You need your phone to call for help so don't get stuck with low battery. Keep a charger nearby and make a habit of plugging in your phone.
- Environmental protection. In cold weather, you need a blanket. In hot weather, keep a sunshade in your car so your vehicle won't become unbearable if you have to take shelter in it for a while.
- First aid kit. Most car first aid kits include bandages, antibacterial cream, and over-the-counter remedies so you can take care of minor aches and injuries on the road.
- Road flares. These are important for times when you get stuck in the evening or in a low-population area. Being visible can prevent other drivers from crashing into you, especially in the dark.
- Jumper cables. One of the most common car problems is a dead battery, and while there are often cars around to give you a jump, without cables you aren't going anywhere. Don't rely on other drivers to have these readily available.
- Roll of quarters. Running a toll is a traffic violation, and most toll booths are equipped with cameras to snap a photo as you drive away. Avoid the fine by making sure you always have enough to pay the toll.
- What to Do if Your Car Breaks Down on a Road Trip (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Car Accident Basics (FindLaw)
- Car Lemon Laws: How to Get Your Car Fixed For Free (FindLaw's Common Law)