The Official Blog of Penske Transportation Solutions
Caution triangles on the road warning of a stopped truck

Roadside Emergency Kit: What Drivers Should Pack

What hazards will this winter bring to commercial motor vehicle drivers? While nobody knows for sure how bad each winter may be, the Farmer’s Almanac indicates that the winter of 2022-23 will include plenty of snow, rain and mush, along with record-breaking cold in parts of the U.S.

That means professional drivers must be ready for anything and plan accordingly. This includes keeping a properly stocked roadside emergency kit with you at all times. Your kit can help if you get stuck or stranded in harsh weather and is there if you suffer an unexpected mechanical breakdown or accident. In extreme situations, the items in your kit may even save your life. So prior to each trip, inspect the items in your kit to ensure completeness and make sure you know how to operate the emergency equipment before an emergency happens.

What should go in your kit?

Mandatory Items

The U.S. Department of Transportation mandates that all drivers carry:

  • One fire extinguisher with an Underwriters’ Laboratory (UL) rating of 5 B:C or more, or two extinguishers with UL ratings of 4 B:C or more. All extinguishers must be labeled, filled, charged and securely mounted. Hazmat vehicles must carry an extinguisher with UL ratings of 10 B:C or more.
  • Spare fuses – You should have at least one spare fuse for each type and size of fuse your truck needs.
  • Warning devices for stopped vehicles – These include three bi-directional emergency reflective triangles. You should also carry at least six road flares capable of burning for 30 minutes or three liquid-burning flares capable of burning for at least 60 minutes to meet UL standards.

Other Basic Items

  • Jumper cables or a portable lithium-ion battery
  • Motor oil and coolant
  • A safety vest and a warning flag
  • A first-aid kit that includes bandages, hand sanitizer, gauze pads, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment, scissors and tweezers
  • A tool kit that includes wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, flashlight, duct tape, zip ties and a box cutter
  • A tire pressure gauge and an inflator or sealant to patch up a tire
  • Long-lasting foods like canned goods and energy bars
  • Bottled water – Wrap them in a cloth to make sure they don’t freeze in colder weather.
  • Cell phone with a charging cord that works properly
  • Medications – prescription, over-the-counter meds and supplements
  • A tarp if you need to work on your rig while on the road
  • A laminated list of all emergency contacts
  • A hand crank radio or battery-operated radio with extra batteries

Items Specifically for Cold Weather Driving

  • Snow and ice equipment – Shovel, ice scraper, snow brush, tire chains, below zero windshield washer fluid, weather-proof matches, cat litter for traction
  • Winter clothing – Wool socks, hat, mittens, waterproof boots, snow pants, insulated socks, face mask, ice cleats, hand and feet warmers
  • Extra blankets including an emergency blanket and/or a subzero sleeping bag
    • Other authorized comfort items – It’s been proven that morale-boosting items greatly increase the likelihood of survival and increase the ability to maintain rational thought during emergency situations.