State Farm did a study that found very few people are actually prepared for an emergency, which means they are cruising for trouble.
On treacherous conditions like snow and ice, with poor visibility and slick roads, it’s entirely possible to find yourself stranded in your car with a trunk full of junk, instead of the roadside emergency equipment you need, placing you and your family or friends in jeopardy.
According to State Farm’s research, over 60 percent of car owners had more stuff like clothes and shoes or trash, like used food and drink containers, than anything helpful in an emergency. Almost everyone had a jack, spare tire or jumper cables, but only nine percent actually carry all the essential emergency roadside supplies.
The bare minimum of these items necessary to cover the bulk of automotive contingencies include jumper cables, spare tire, hazard triangles or road flares, a flashlight, first aid kit, fresh water and a blanket.
How many of those things are currently in your vehicle?
"Even on a relatively short trip, you can find yourself stranded for several hours. From icy waters splashing up on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago to fog covering the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, (to a white-out in the Colorado mountains) it's important to be prepared," said Robert Medved, safety expert, State Farm. "These new findings highlight the importance of having the right emergency equipment so people can safely get back on the road faster."
SUV and pickup owners are the most likely, at 75 and 73 percent respectively, to have these items, and chances are they use them to help others who are stranded far more often than they ever need the supplies themselves
The new survey findings also revealed only 63 percent of sedan drivers are likely to carry any emergency supplies.
Further, only two in five drivers check to see the supplies in their vehicle are functional twice a year – something State Farm recommends.
What to do if you find yourself in trouble
• First, pull completely off the road if possible with hazard lights flashing and deploy road flares or reflectors if you’ll be for five minutes or more.
• If you have a cell phone, or concierge service like OnStar, call and describe your location precise, following any instructions of the dispatcher.
• Stay in your vehicle so help can find you and run your engine and heater only 10 minutes of each hour – inclement weather can hamper even emergency vehicles.
• Open a downwind window slightly for ventilation, clearing and snow from the tailpipe to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Don't run down the vehicle's battery power. Use an economy of light, heat and radio to conserve the available supply.
• When the engines running, turn on an interior light, making it easier for help to see you.
• In inclement weather, it’s a good idea to never let your fuel drop below half a tank, especially if driving through remote areas.
Should you ever find yourself stranded in the cold and dark, you’ll appreciate having the road flares, flashlight, blanket, windshield scraper, jumper cables, spare tire and a first aid kit in your vehicle or trunk.
State Farm hired KRC Research to perform the study, which contacted 1,010 adults in the US, finding 895 qualified drivers on a phone survey calling both and landline and mobile numbers from December 6 to December 9, 2012. The data reflects an accurate representation of the national population age 18 and over in regard to age, sex, geographic region, race and education.
We hope you never find yourself stranded in a car along a lonely highway in the cold and dark. If you do, we further hope your trunk is not full of junk and has the proper emergency equipment within to help you and your passengers survive in relative comfort.