Some 35% of Americans identified the ice scraper as the most important tool to have in your car during winter, according to a 2021 survey by The Zebra. That was followed by gloves or mittens, which ranked as the second most important item (28%), and sand or kitty litter, which came in third (25%).
Other safety items that respondents believed were important to keep in their winter driving kit included a flashlight (25%), traction mats (15%), and a disposable cellphone (12%).
Nearly 2,000 people die and over 135,000 people are injured each year due to car accidents on icy and snowy roads. With that in mind, The Zebra set out to assess how well prepared drivers are when it comes to winter driving.
Survey respondents certainly seemed familiar with winter driving conditions, with nearly 76% saying they have driven through black ice.
Surprisingly, the West as a geographic region claimed to have the most experience, with nearly 83% noting that they have encountered black ice while behind the wheel. Yet only 68% of respondents from the South experienced black ice at least once in their lives.
Despite most respondents having encountered black ice, an alarming 58% of respondents admit to never having used snow tires in the winter.
On the upside, The Zebra conducted a similar survey in 2020 and found that most Americans are aware of proper safety procedures when driving during winter. For example, 93% of people correctly identified that you should not use cruise control or traction control on icy roads.
Moreover, 96% of respondents correctly identified that if you begin to skid on icy roads, the driver should never slam on the brake pedal to regain control of the vehicle.
Approximately 70% of roads in the U.S. are in snowy areas, which increases the threat of an accident significantly, according to the Federal Highway Administration.