Holiday Gift Guide For Your Family Drivers

Need some fun holiday gifts for all the drivers in your family?

There’s plenty of goodies, gizmos and gadgets useful for drivers of all ages. 

Here are some ideas of old favorites and trendy new items that would make any driver happy:

 

New Favorites

Interior Color-Changing LED lights: Add some flair and personalize your interior with strips of LED lights that illuminate in any number of colors. 

"The underglow can strobe in amber when an accident has happened, or the interior ambient light can slightly glow red to remind you are over speed limit," said Dan Julian, director of design and CEO of XKGLOW, an LED manufacturer based in Illinois.

Some LED products are paired with a smartphone app that allow you to change or copy colors, and even synchronize the beat of the music with the flashing of interior lights. 

Portable battery charger: Portable battery chargers are either powered by lead-acid batteries (same as what’s under your hood) or lithium-ion batteries (the ones that in your mobile devices).

Models built on lead-acid batteries are bulky and often unwieldy, but typically last longer between charges than their lithium-ion counterparts. The lead-acid versions sometimes include a 120-volt electrical outlet, which increases the device’s versatility. Lithium-ion-powered models are the size of a smartphone.

They can be stored in the glove box or sit in the center console, charging your mobile devices from a USB port (if it has one).

Dashboard Camera: Cameras similar to those used by law enforcement are finding their way to the dashboards safety-conscious drivers.

“Dash cameras are helpful in hit-and-run collisions – where you’d want to get someone’s license plate,” said Johan-Till Broer of Garman, a Kansas-based electronics company that started making dash cameras this year.

 

Classic Products

Car Care Products: Who couldn’t use a bottle of wash or wax in their stocking? Help out that car aficionado in your life and get something to keep the chrome and paint looking shiny.

“It’s about ease of use,” said Rob McCarter, brand manager for Eagle One. “You get the benefits of waxing as you wash – that extra layer of UV protection and shine.”

Duster/brush: Sometimes a brush is the tool you should grab. Bigger brushes are invaluable for cleaning large areas in a matter of minutes, but every vehicle has crevices and hard-to-reach corners in need of special attention. Smaller brushes with ultra-soft bristles are ideal in those instances.

“Brushes are great when you need to gently agitate while letting particulates get washed away,” said Jim Dvorak of Mothers, a polish company based in Southern California. “Especially with muddy areas, a towel would rub the particulates into the finish and potentially scratch it.”

Floor mats: Rubber mats add aesthetic appeal to a vehicle’s interior and help protect the carpet.

Clean carpets keep the air in your car from becoming musty by reducing the amount of dust and allergens inside. Look for a product that comes with a warranty. Such safeguards give consumers peace of mind.

Insist on custom-fitted mats. A mat designed specifically for your make, model and year fits best and provides maximum protection.

For sports enthusiasts, consider custom floor mats with the logo of their favorite team.

LED Flashlight: Ever lost something between the driver’s seat and center console?

An LED flashlight stashed in the glovebox keeps you from blindly fumbling around. Put one of these in the car and you’ll be amazed at how much you find yourself using it.

LED models are longer lasting than traditional bulbs and provide better illumination. Superior to traditional bulbs, LED lights provide long-lasting, consistent and powerful beams of light.

“The simplest things can be so important in an emergency or breakdown. Like a flashlight and simple first-aid items,” said Jason Grubard, marketing manager for DC Safety.

Polarized sunglasses: Polarized sunglasses are driver essential--much easier on the eyes to reduce glare and they can be a statement of style as well.

“Sunglasses are so important people tend to include them in their mental checklist with wallet and cellphone before they leave the house,” said Bill Yerby, director of sales and marketing for Serengeti Eyewear. “While glare is the biggest issue, eye strain caused by harsh light and squinting presents a real and pervasive hazard for drivers.”

Lenses are made of glass, plastic or composites. Glass lenses provide the best visual clarity, Yerby said. Color affects visibility as well. Yerby suggested amber-tinted shades for driving.

“Amber is the best compromise because it is dark enough for protection in bright sunlight but light enough to still perform in the shade.”

Portable vacuum: Stashing a portable vacuum in the family car provides an on-board convenience, especially when the device is specifically designed for the cabin.

“Small, lightweight devices make cleaning less of a chore,” said Sarah Windham public relations manager at Stanley Black & Decker, Inc., which produces four styles of handheld vacuums.

Binoculars: Binoculars are more precise and durable than ever, and that’s why they still warrant a spot in the glove compartment.

“I always have a pair of binoculars in my vehicle for impromptu wildlife watching,” said Mike Capps, a media relations specialist for Bushnell Optics. “They can also be handy in some circumstances when there’s an incident of some sort off in the distance and you want to get a better idea of what’s going on.”

Pet Harness: Why should a dog wear a restraint while riding in a vehicle? The same reason you wear a seatbelt and parents rely on child safety seats.

Sharp turns, sudden stops and collisions cause severe injury or death to unrestrained animals and anyone inside the vehicle.

"Keep your pets restrained on every trip,” said Dr. Flaura Winston of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. "In the event of a crash they can be a projectile hurting everyone, including themselves.

Lindsey Wolko, founder of the nonprofit Center for Pet Safety, has spent the last decade raising awareness about animal restraints for pet owners. Yet, she cautions there is no uniform safety standard for the industry.

“Beware of the marketing spin around all pet travel products,” said Wolko. “There’s no such thing as a ‘pass’ for any category of pet travel device when it comes to crash testing.”

Inspect products thoroughly. Your pet’s safety depends on the quality of straps, connectors, how products were tested and size of your pet.