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Gift Your Teenage Driver with a Car Emergency Kit

Updated on May 23, 2012
Road emergency kits take some of the worry out of being on the road for both your young adult driver and you!
Road emergency kits take some of the worry out of being on the road for both your young adult driver and you! | Source

When my young adult daughter bought her first car in 2000 and traveled regularly between Pennsylvania and Missouri, I wanted to make sure she was prepared for road emergencies. I found a good deal on a car emergency kit at my local big box store and promptly made the purchase. Eleven years later, this auto safety kit still resides in the trunk of her car, having been pressed into service too many times to count.

The most-used emergency kit item has been the jumper cables, although emergency flares, air-in-a-can, and flash light have come to her rescue many times whether she was helping herself or a friend. Through the years, she's kept up with replenishing flares and batteries and other items in the car kit to keep it useful in road emergencies. At the same time, she's learned important lessons about being the first line of defense in a road emergency: if there's something she can do to get herself and other drivers out of a mechanical jam (without putting her personal safety or another's at risk), then she'll do that first.

Take Advantage of Your Teenage Driver's Excitement about Driving

Do you remember how excited you were, passing your driver's exam and earning the privilege of taking your first legal solo drive? This is a significant rite of passage on the road to becoming an adult. Take advantage of your young adult drivers' excitement by gifting them with their own car emergency kits. I promise you, whether they let you know or not, they will go through those road emergency kits with fine-tooth combs, getting to know every piece. And they'll be thanking you every time the kit comes out of the car to help them deal with the unexpected.

Sources for Finding a Car Emergency Kit

There are hundreds of auto emergency kits on the market at prices ranging from reasonable to exorbitant. You can find them online, through your dealership, and in box stores and specialty auto parts stores.

Online If you are shopping online, take advantage of customer reviews wherever you can. Amazon is a rich resource for customer reviews and ratings. Anything less than an Amazon customer review rating of four stars is probably not worth looking at. Read the customer reviews carefully before committing to a purchase.

AAA If you are an AAA (Automobile Association of America) member, take a look at the member-discounted emergency road kits available on their shopping site.

Your mechanic Talk to your car dealership or private mechanic. These folks are in the day-to-day business, and there’s nothing they haven’t seen. A trendy dealership might sell their brand’s emergency road kits, and you will pay top dollar for those, but they will also engage in a conversation with you about what an emergency kit should contain. A private auto mechanic may have a more salty view, and there’s a lot to be learned from that.

Specialty auto parts stores Scout around at your local Pep Boys or AutoZone stores. They are service-oriented and know just about all there is to know about cars. They cater to the do-it-yourself mechanic and also to the consumer who doesn’t know anything about the fine points of how cars work. My mom loves her local Pep Boys. If she needs some cleaning solution to get rid of pine tar on her car or needs a headlight replaced, she goes there first.

Car Emergency Kit Features and Item Options

Car emergency kits come in a wide range of prices. In general, the more emergency items in the kit, the higher the price. Assess your young driver’s needs and choose features and options accordingly.

Item Options 
Carrying case 
Hard formed plastic boxes, soft bags
Jumper cables, tow ropes, tire inflators, cable ties, fire extinguishers, safe fuel siphons, duct tape, all-in-one hand tools 
Lighting sources 
Flashlights, safety flares, glow sticks, reflective triangles, LED beacon flares 
Personal gear
Plastic rain ponchos, blankets, emergency whistles, utility gloves
First aid 
Bandages, gauze pads, adhesive tape, wet wipes, scissors, tweezers, cotton swabs, first aid instructions 
Winter weather
Folding shovel, ice scraper, emergency survival blanket, hand warmer packets

You may find that none of the emergency kits on the market contains all the items you'd like your young driver to have. If that's the case, then choose the soft bag carrying case so that you can add items of your choice.

Car Emergency Kits Online

Amazon has a substantial selection of auto emergency kits, and it also publishes helpful customer reviews. Amazon also offers free-shipping deals from time to time. If you catch one of those offerings, you’ll get an excellent deal. Here are some of their current offerings.

How Prepared for Road Emergencies Are You?

I have an auto emergency kit in my car.

See results

I have an auto emergency kit in my car AND I replenish items as needed.

See results

A Car Emergency Kit is a Gift of Safety

Young drivers face grim statistics when they get behind the wheel or travel as passengers with young friends. Do you know that the leading cause of death for 16- to 19-year-olds in the US is not disease but a car crash? The same age group is four times more likely to crash than older drivers. You can read the teen drivers fact sheet published by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention not only for more alarming statistics but also for encouraging news about teen auto accident prevention.

An auto emergency kit in and of itself will not minimize a young adult driver’s risk, but gifting one to your teenager will give both of you an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation about this rite of passage and the responsibilities it demands.

In case you answered "no" to either of the poll questions above, now is the perfect time to give yourself the same gift of safety.


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    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      What better way to protect your kids (or grandkids) than to make sure they are safe! If you don't want to buy an already prepared kit, you've listed some emergency essentials that can be purchased alone and added to that soft bag. This hub should be handed out with Learner's Permits!

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      Great hub. A car emergency kit is very important specially when teenagers drive. Voted up.

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Whoa, RedSturtz! Would that bourbon be for sterilizing wounds inflicted while drinking it while driving? LOL. What a great comment. Thanks so much for reading and leaving the good words.

    • RedSturtz profile image

      RedSturtz 6 years ago from A land far far away....

      What a great idea... back when I got my first car, the emergency kit consisted of a torch and a few bottles of bourbon. I think we had different ideas of what constituted an emergency back then!

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      That's what I thought, annemaeve!

    • annemaeve profile image

      annemaeve 6 years ago from Philly Burbs

      Awwwwww... You'd better believe the jumper cables are the most used item in that kit!

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Casey, you are right on the mark! This is an essential for the teenage driver. Thanks so much for the good words.

    • Casey White profile image

      Mike and Dorothy McKenney 6 years ago from United States

      Great article. I just bought my grandson his first vehicle, and I made sure it was equipped with a safety/emergency kit. This is a MUST HAVE for teens. Voted you up and will be following you in the future.

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Thanks, Tom!

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 6 years ago from United States

      This is such a useful, well written article!

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Glad you found this worthwhile, Peg. Thanks for the "up"!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      What a kind and thoughtful gift to give...that of an auto emergency kit. Practical and invaluable if ever needed to be put to use. Thanks for this useful hub. Rated up!

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Gypsumgirl, I imagine mountain driving, especially in winter, would require some special thinking about what goes into an er road kit. Thanks for the good words!

    • gypsumgirl profile image

      gypsumgirl 7 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

      What a great idea! Thank you for such a wonderful hub. I definitely found it very useful and noted as such.

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Thanks, FP!

    • FlyingPanther profile image

      FlyingPanther 7 years ago from here today gone tomorrow!!

      Sally.Great hub as always.Very useful tips for all ages really.

      Love always


    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Thanks for the good words, Tony! When researching this Hub, I was rather surprised at the variety of emergency road gear that's available on the market. Even if you don't start with a packaged kit, stashing some choice tools in a tote is a smart idea and an affordable one, too.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      The information here is very useful and helpful. I completely agree with having an emergency kit in the car and that its contents are kept current.

      Very useful tips too.

      Love and peace


    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Linda, you and my daughter share the same experiences with the cables. These alone have made the kit worth the purchase.

      Just a little funny acquaintance of my daughter's, wanting to be a gentleman, offered to connect his car battery to hers using her cables when her battery died. She hesitated for a second (because she knows exactly how to do this since she's done it so many times, and the thought did cross her mind that maybe he didn't) but then agreed. Guess what happened? :) He wanted to pay for the damages, which fortunately didn't amount to that much, so she, in a lady-like way, accepted his apology but declined his offer.

      I agree, emergency road kits are necessary for all ages, and all sexes!

      Your niece has a wonderful aunt. Wishing you well! ~Sherri

    • profile image

      Linda Myshrall 7 years ago

      Perfect timing on this! This is a great gift idea for my niece who is about to get her license. These are necessary for all ages really - I have used the battery cables in my roadside emergency kit so many times that I should be ashamed ;) a bad habit of leaving my lights on... Another great article by you. Thumbs up, Linda

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Darski, I live for a compliment like "awesome and smart info." You just made my day!

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      What an excellent hub, great need and idea for teens, new drivers and all...great parent listen to Sally this is awesome and smart info...rate this up love & peace darski

    • trish1048 profile image

      trish1048 7 years ago

      Sounds good to me. I just hope it can fit behind my seat because that's the only place it can go.

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Trish, I agree that cell phones are a blessing. But, unfortunately, there are times when there's no cell service, or the phone battery is out of juice. I'm just reiterating my point that road service club membership may not be enough. When next you visit, will cook up a storm...and build you an emergency road kit. :)

    • trish1048 profile image

      trish1048 7 years ago

      Excellent information. Sadly, I too had to vote no to both questions. I do, however, have road service through my auto insurance. There was a time I knew how to change a tire, but no longer. At my age now, I wouldn't even attempt it. Although cell phones definitely have their down side, especially where teens are concerned (texting/chatting)it is a godsend for just such emergencies, especially when traveling on roads that are pretty much deserted as far as gas stations or emergency phones go.

      Thumbs up!

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      ladyjane1, thanks for the good words!

      crystolite, good decision! Glad this was useful.

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 7 years ago from Houston TX

      That sounds great. i will get it for my family use. Thanks a lot

    • ladyjane1 profile image

      ladyjane1 7 years ago from Texas

      Sounds like A great gift to me...great hub here with tons of info. cheers.

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      drbj, one of the beautiful aspects of the driver's ed programs in highschool was that they were part and parcel of a celebration of this rite of passage. It was a coming together of a great event and the learning that accompanied it.

      That driver ed programs have been supplanted with drug awareness programs puts the focus on the negative, not on the positive.

      I agree with you. Driver ed programs made an impact on kids because they touched on a kid's desire, not on a kid's despair.

      Thank you for your awesome comment, as your comments always are.

      Now go get those drivers' gifts! :)

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      The Drivers' Ed programs in high schools were very valuable and many have now been supplanted with programs about the hazards of drugs. I think the Drivers' Ed programs made much more of an impact on teenagers.

      I like this idea of an auto kit as a gift for any driver - thanks for reminding me, Sally.

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      LOL Fay! I'm delighted this Hub jogged the memory. Lucky for the new owner they've got this emergency road kit in their car. Wonder if they know it's there and what a life-saver it could be. You did good! :)

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      MsLizzy, take a look at your auto insurance provider. I have Allstate, and with it comes their road service plan, for free. I've always had AAA, until this year. I, too, have to trim costs. Where AAA costs about 100 USD per year, I now get the same road service from Allstate, for nothing. I haven't had to rely on Allstate's service yet, but at least I know it's there. In addition, the Allstate auto insurance policy undercut every other provider I looked at in terms of price, including the TV-intensive advertisers whom I won't mention by name. Check it out.

    • profile image

      Fay Paxton 7 years ago

      Sally, you are a lifesaver! I just sold a car and left my emergency kit in the trunk. Taking a little road trip in a few days and had completely forgotten that I need to pick up a new one. Thanks for reminding me.

      voted up/useful

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 7 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Agreed, Sally, that we'd rather not be out in the rain. (We don't get sleet or snow here, but it's true that many do.)

      However, in our current circumstances, we've been forced to give up our auto club as one more thing we need to trim just to stay partially afloat. We also had to give up our cell phone service. So, if we have trouble on the road, we're "S.O.L." and it's ALL up to our own resources and fix-it abilities. C'est la vie!

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Sinea, thank you so much for the twitter and fb "passing along"! I'm glad you found this Hub worthwhile enough to give it more exposure. The more I think on the subject after reading the comments folks are leaving, the more I'm committed to encouraging adult-teen conversation about what being on the road means.

      Yeay Rhonda! Maybe you'll want to get him one that comes in a soft bag. I'm thinking he'll want to add safety items of his own once he gets to thinking about the possibilities. Thanks so much for your comment.

      CASE1WORKER, I feel your eldest daughter's pain! Back in the day when I was commuting to college, I had a VW Bug that barely inhaled fuel and gas prices were so, so cheap. That's not the way with the world today. I agree that club memberships are worth the money spent in so many ways, including a parent's peace of mind.

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      alekhouse, please do spread the word to the teenage drivers you know. It's unfortunate that too many highschools elimnated their driver ed programs. It makes it that much more important to have important conversations with our kids about their risks and responsibilities.

      Thanks for the vote, MsLizzy. I think we need both club memberships and emergency road kits. I don't know about you, but if I blow a tire in sleet and rain, I'd rather not be the one out there doing the changing!

      Sally, bully for you for 'fessing up! You are doing exactly the right thing. What a great opportunity for you and your son to have one of those bonding moments. I think you're setting a super example.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 7 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Very good hub- I have a family membership for me, him and the girls- it takes the worry out of my day- the youngest used it when her battery failed so it has been worth the money. My eldest daughter commutes to university- her emergency kit is £20 to pay for petrol ( she is a poor student)

    • Rhonda Waits profile image

      Rhonda Musch 7 years ago from The Emerald Coast

      Hi this is a great idea. My son is 18 moved out and has his own apartment. I will be getting him his very own kit.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Sweet wishes Rhonda

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 7 years ago from Northeastern United States

      This hub is a marvelous list of important safety information. This hub is worth passing along to others...tweeting and liking to FB!

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 7 years ago

      Thanks for an informative hub. Sadly, I had to answer no to both of your questions. My son will start driving shortly. I'll be making 2 emergency kits - one for him and one for me!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 7 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Great Hub!! Awesome idea! An additional gift is to teach them to at least know how to check air pressure, fluids, battery connections and change a tire.

      An auto club membership can be very useful, but more and more, these services are taking up to an hour or more to arrive. Wouldn't it be better to be able to change your own tire and be on your way again long before the auto club could arrive?

      Voted up & useful!

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Wow what a great idea. I have an 18 year old grandson who just started driving. I'll have to tell him about this...Thanks