Getting your teens set up with their first car can be a bit daunting. While you can’t travel every road with them, you can ensure they’re properly equipped for most emergency situations.

A small investment can go a long way when preparing your teenagers for more regular driving. Here is a list of items to consider purchasing, how much they cost and why you might want to encourage your teens to have them in their car at all times. Let’s run the gauntlet – from tyre pumps to toilet paper!

#1. Safety vest

In bad situations, sometimes drivers need to hop out of the car, perhaps to push it to the side of the road. In these instances, being as visible as possible is crucial.

A safety vest can greatly reduce the risk of drivers being hit by oncoming cars if there is an accident. It also means that they’ll be easier to spot if they’re ‘off course’ (or even if they’re trying to hail down an Uber!). Safety vests range from $10 to $15 (from discount department stores). A good place for your kids to keep their vest is underneath the driver-side seat.

It also makes for a great emergency outfit when they need to hit up the clubs…just kidding.

#2. Flashlight

A flashlight is useful if your kids have to spend any time travelling at night (obviously). If they become lost, they’ll have a light source to check a map, and if they break down, they can look under the bonnet of their car to investigate the cause of their misfortune.

Sure, they can use their smartphone flashlight, but what if the battery dies? Grab a small $5 LED flashlight and they’ll be covered no matter what.

Related: Three ways dash cams are changing the world

#3. Toilet paper

Getting caught short on a long road trip with no rest stops in sight can be uncomfortable – even more so if you have no toilet paper. Additionally, a roll can be handy for cleaning up after tinkering with the car, or even if someone spills snacks in the back seat!
Since Homebrand toilet paper will only set you back around $1.15, this purchase is a no brainer.

#4. Spare tyre, pump & jack

According to the RACQ, many new cars come with a temporary tyre (sometimes called a space saver spare). But these tyres will only get your kids so far, given they’re a last resort and not always the same size as your other wheels. Having a pumped up spare is essential. Rough roads can deflate tyres and even if a pump is handy, the tyre may not be salvageable.

The cost of a spare will vary, depending on the size of the car and if you selected retreads (cheaper) or a brand new tyre (longer lasting, typically). Prices start at around $79 for small cars to over $200 for an all-terrain SUV and a powered pump starts at around $25 from some auto retail stores. Drop them in the boot with a jack (to prop up the car) and they’ll never know they’re in there. Also, teach them how to change a tyre – it’s invaluable knowledge.

#5. First aid kit

A well maintained first aid kit becomes a godsend in an emergency. If there’s a crash, drivers can assist any injured people, or have the tools handy for someone to assist them. Make sure you get your kids qualified in first aid training beforehand – that way, they know what they’re doing. If they’re reluctant to do the training, tell them that some workplaces offer a small pay rise if they’re qualified in first aid – that might do the trick!

St John Ambulance Australia has a motoring first aid kit for $37.95. This organisation also runs training courses across the country.

#6. Jump leads

According to the RACQ there are plenty of ways motorists can drain their battery without realising it, like leaving the lights on when the engine isn’t idling. In any case, it’s common to find drivers in a situation where they’re ‘out of juice’. Whether it’s your kid’s car or a fellow motorist’s, jumper leads can give the kick-start needed. In fact, you could say they’re taking part in the great Australian tradition – to help out broken-down motorists with a ‘jump’.

The cost for jumper leads start at around $38.

#7. Water

Especially handy on long distance drives, a tank of water in the boot has lots of uses. It’s essential if your child runs out of drinking water in a rural area (for example, after a camping trip), or need to top up the radiator if it’s running low.  Also, if they cut themselves, clean water is useful to wash out wounds. A 10 litre carry can will set you back around $16, but you could also fill some used 2 litre bottles for free. Pack a super soaker as well and your kids will think you’re the best parent ever.

#8. Hard copy map / Street directory

Most of us now rely on our phones or GPS to get us from A to B…in fact, your kids have probably never even held a paper map. However, if their phone runs out of batteries, or there is no cell reception, then a paper map is a great back up.

A small regional map from an online retailer could set you back around $15, with city maps at approximately $45.

Being prepared can stop a bad situation turning into a nightmare: Compare insurance providers to protect yourself and your teens

#9. Blanket

According to the TAC, driver fatigue contributes to ‘16-20% of all road crashes in Victoria’, recommending a 15-minute power nap if drowsiness sets in.

When your kids have to pull over on a cold day, a blanket could be essential to their comfort. Or, it can provide shade if they’re stuck out in the sun and don’t want to be stuck inside a hot car. As a worse case scenario, blankets become useful if drivers break down and need to sleep in their vehicle.

You can get a travel blanket for around $5, depending on what quality you desire. Make sure you buy them something really embarrassing though, as it’s one of the many perks of parenthood.

#10. Cash

Having an emergency cash stash in your car comes in handy just in case you can’t access an ATM, especially when driving long distances. Can you trust your kids not to spend it? …Maybe, maybe not. You can always hide it near the tyre pump, labeled “just in case”. Regardless of whether you tell them or not, be sure the cash is not visible from outside the vehicle, as it could encourage opportunist thieves.

$50-60 will usually get drivers home in a cab, or at least to the nearest town. A small part of that should be in coins for smaller expenditures (for example, candy – essential in most emergencies, your kids will no doubt argue).

(Bonus Round!) #11. Duct tape

With so many uses, duct tape can be a real life saver no matter where you are. Reattaching a hanging rear view mirror, acting as a shield between hands and hot objects, or playing pranks on friends – a roll of duct tape retails for around $6.00 and makes number 10 on our list for its wide array of uses.

The total cost of all these items could come to around $270. Keep in mind though,

  1. you might already have some of these items at home, and
  2. they should last several years.

Being prepared can save time, money and even lives. Whilst you can’t put a price on safety, you can ensure your kids are covered to deal with the most common emergencies.

And while yes – this article is for your kids, we’d strongly urge every driver to keep these essentials in their vehicle.


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