Ready for
the road?

What every driver should have in their car vs the reality

There are eight essential emergency items every driver should have
in their car. But what’s the reality? Among the fast food wrappers, spare change, tissues and
CDs, here’s how much road safety gear most drivers actually have.


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The Emergency Kit

Most Americans only have
4 out of the 8 recommended essentials in their car.

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Spare tire / tire inflator & sealant

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Tire changing tools

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Jumper cables

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Flashlight

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First aid kit

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Water bottle

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Tool kit

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Road flares

The Reality

What items do Americans actually have in their cars?
Browse the full
list below, or sort the table by gender or age.

Item Overall Male Female Age 16‑34 Age 35‑54 Age 55+
Registration and insurance certificate 84 81 85 80 83 87
Car manual 82 82 82 77 80 88
Pen/pencil 79 81 78 76 77 83
Spare tire/tire inflator & sealant 73 74 73 63 74 79
Tire changing tools 68 76 64 56 68 77
Tissues 67 62 70 59 66 74
USB charger 67 61 71 79 71 56
Windshield ice scraper 61 59 62 59 61 62
Jumper cables 58 61 56 58 57 59
Umbrella 57 48 63 50 54 66
Tire pressure gauge 53 59 49 43 53 59
Flashlight 51 57 48 44 47 60
CDs 47 49 46 47 49 44
Paper/notebook 47 48 46 44 44 51
First aid kit 45 46 45 42 46 47
Reusable shopping bags 45 33 52 36 46 50
Water bottle 42 35 45 54 41 34
Blanket 40 32 45 43 37 42
Tool kit 39 46 35 35 39 41
Antibacterial gel 35 25 41 37 39 30
Cell phone 35 38 33 39 35 31
Rags 26 33 22 21 23 32
Chewing gum 25 24 26 33 30 14
Cash 24 27 23 32 22 22
Car child seat 23 14 28 35 28 10
Hat 23 28 20 25 23 21
Non-scented wipes 23 15 27 24 25 20
Paper maps 23 25 22 13 19 33
Oil 20 23 18 21 20 19
Rain poncho 16 16 16 14 15 20
Change of clothes 16 16 16 26 16 9
Coolant 15 18 14 16 17 13
Make up/hair brush 15 5 20 20 15 11
Non-perishable food (e.g. canned food, cereal bars, etc.) 14 10 16 16 15 12
Empty chip/snack wrappers 14 9 16 25 15 5
Latex/vinyl gloves 13 15 11 11 14 12
Flares 12 14 11 8 11 16
De-icer 12 13 12 12 13 12
Coffee cup(s) 12 12 12 16 15 7
Fast food wrappers 12 10 13 22 13 4
Duct tape 12 18 9 13 11 12
GPS 11 13 10 8 12 12
Books/deck of cards 10 8 12 12 11 9
Small shovel 9 11 9 10 9 9
WD40 9 12 6 6 10 9
Reflective triangle 9 11 7 7 9 10
Scarf 8 4 11 12 8 6
Cigarettes 7 7 6 9 8 4
iPod 7 8 6 15 6 2
Waterproof bag 7 6 7 6 6 7
Newspaper/magazines 6 5 7 7 7 5
Tow rope 6 10 4 4 5 7
Empty gas can 6 7 5 6 6 5
Fire extinguisher 4 7 3 2 5 6
Gun 4 5 4 5 4 3
Camping equipment 3 5 3 5 4 2
Subwoofer/custom speakers 3 5 3 3 4 3
Cassette tapes 3 4 3 2 2 5
Perishable food (e.g. sandwich, dairy products, etc.) 3 2 3 4 2 2
Cat litter for slippery roads 2 2 3 3 2 3
Small battery powered fan 2 3 2 4 2 1
Condoms 2 3 1 2 2 1
Hi-viz bib 1 2 0 1 1 1

We surveyed 2,121 US car owners who drive on 9th-10th October 2018. The list of eight essential
items was sourced from DMV.org, which recommends a basic emergency kit for
drivers. The remaining essential and non-essential items were gathered from a selection of reputable
websites, such as the AAA, driving-tests.org, Car-care.org, DMV.org,
and fact sheets from WSDOT.


Siegfried & Jensen

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