Canadians have all the wrong junk in their trunk

Here's what you really REALLY need to carry with you at all times

  • Trunk

All the food containers, clothing, toys and sports equipment crammed into your trunk won’t help much if you’re stranded at the side of the road.

A recent survey shows 61 percent of Canadian motorists, almost two thirds of us, seem to prefer driving around with more junk in our trunks than roadside emergency items like a shovel, flares or reflectors, jumper cables, a flashlight, first aid kit, fire extinguisher and other stuff we’ll wish we had when Betsy breaks down.

The online survey commissioned by the insurer State Farm Canada last October and November polled 1,050 licensed drivers, from teens to seniors, to see just how prepared they were to deal with car trouble — especially this time of year.

“Even on a relatively short trip, you can find yourself stranded for several hours. Whether it’s because of a flat tire, an empty fuel tank or treacherous conditions like ice or fog, it’s important to be prepared,” said John Nepomuceno, auto safety research administrator with State Farm.

“These new findings highlight the importance of having the right emergency equipment so you can safely get back on the road sooner,” he added.

While almost all Canadian motorists (97 per cent) said they had at least one emergency item in their vehicle, fewer than 1 in 10 (4 per cent) claimed they had all of the essential safety articles.

A spare tire was the most common emergency item that 81 per cent of the surveyed drivers said they had, 75 per cent had a windshield scraper and brush and 53 per cent said they were equipped with jumper cables.

Only 45 per cent admitted to having a flash light, 43 per cent were equipped with a first aid kit, 41 per cent said they had blankets or extra clothing, 22 per cent had water and a mere 17 per cent said they had road flares in their trunks.

But just as it’s important to make sure the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at home get replaced annually, checking the condition of automotive safety supplies more than once a year is a good practice many motorists overlook.

While 34 per cent of the surveyed drivers said they checked twice a year to make sure their emergency supplies were in working order, more than a third, 35 per cent, said they never checked the condition of their roadside safety and survival gear.

“Ensuring that the roadside emergency equipment in your vehicle works properly is often overlooked,” said Nepomuceno.

“A majority of drivers with emergency car supplies are putting themselves at risk by failing to regularly check that their equipment is working properly. The only thing worse than getting a flat tire is finding out that your spare is also flat.”

While having a vehicle breakdown at any time of year can be a pain, bad winter weather can make it downright treacherous to be stranded in the middle of nowhere, so it pays to be prepared.

Here’s a list of items worth having on hand when a roadside breakdown occurs:

  • Hazard triangle (with reflectors) or road flares
  • First aid kit
  • Jumper cables
  • Windshield scraper and brush
  • Spare tire
  • Blankets and extra warm clothing
  • Cellphone and charger
  • High-calorie, non-perishable food
  • Road salt or cat litter to help with tire traction
  • Brightly coloured distress sign or “Help” or “Call Police” flag
  • Candle/matches, lighter, and/or flashlight
  • Tarp for sitting or kneeling in the snow for exterior work like a tire change

For more information and emergency roadside tips, visit

State Farm Insurance has a very cool interactive graphic itemizing and explaining the items Canadians should keep in their trunk at all times. Click this link to see the annotated photo.

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