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Friday, December 10, 2010

Driver Safety: Great Christmas Gifts for Safe Driving

When searching for that perfect Christmas gift for a loved one, why not show how much you really care about them by giving a gift that can make their driving safer and could possibly save their life or the lives of others. There are a lot of gadgets on the market now that can help make driving safer and easier, and most are surprisingly low priced.

Rearview Cameras

According to the web site Kids and Cars.org, two children are killed and more than six children are injured every week when they run behind a car that is backing up. Blind spots behind a car can reach from 11 feet behind a small sedan up to 18 to 28 feet for minivans and pickup trucks. The problem is so bad that the Department of Transportation has issued new rules that all new vehicles must be equipped with back-up cameras starting in 2014 but you don’t have to wait until then.

Back-up cameras are available on the market at auto parts and electronic retail stores and they are surprisingly inexpensive. A rearview camera system with camera, monitor, and connecting hardware can be found for as little as $100.

Global Positioning Systems (GPS)

GPS devices aren't new but they are very handy when a driver is traveling in unfamiliar territory. If you want to give a GPS system as a gift, make sure that the one you purchase is voice activated. If there is any manual input required for the system, make sure the one you get doesn't allow data to be entered when the car is in motion. Trying to input data manually into a GPS is very distracting, removing a driver's eyes and concentration away from the road and that can easily lead to a collision.

Seat Belts and Child Seats

  • Child Safety Seats and Booster seats

  • Nothing is more important for the safety of a child than a properly installed child safety seat or booster seat that is age appropriate for the child. One major problem that has contributed to a lot of unnecessary deaths and injuries is the fact that too many children are being graduated from child safety seats to seat belts before they are big enough to wear a seat belt. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says that children should remain in booster seats until they are at least 4’9” tall. For the average child, that is anywhere from nine to eleven years of age. For information on the safest child safety and booster seats, visit the IIHS website at: http://www.iihs.org/research/topics/boosters/default.html

  • Seat belt snuggers

  • One problem with seat belts is that they can become loose as an occupant or a child in a booster seat moves around. There are two different types of seat belt snuggers on the market that eliminate that problem for both adults and children. For adults, there is the CG Lock which snugs a seat belt and provides more stability for the seat occupant. It can also be used on child safety and booster seats.

    SeatSnug is specifically designed for child safety seats and booster seats. Even after buckling the seat belt and cinching it tight, a child's movements can cause the belt to come loose. SeatSnug is designed to prevent that.

    Both of these products are available for under $50.

  • Shoulder harness adjusters

  • Seat belts are the primary life saving device in the car but too often they go unused because they are uncomfortable or do not fit well. The problem is most acute for smaller drivers who find an ill-fitting shoulder harness chafing against their neck. That problem can be easily solved with shoulder harness adjusters that are readily available at auto parts stores for a very low price

Learn more about the proper driving posture to prevent collisions and injuries.

Teen drivers

Teen drivers, with an "It'll never happen to me." attitude and a lack of driving experience face a lot of dangers on the road. While parents can't watch them every second, there are some devices that can prevent the teen from taking unnecessary chances and can monitor their driving habits. The teen may not appreciate it but they can give parents some peace of mind.

Teen Driver Safety Devices

  • Trip monitors

  • These devices, available for less than $90, plug into the car’s onboard diagnostic port and provide a visual display on a key-chain monitor that reports a teen’s top speed, hard braking, and number of miles driven. The monitor is tamper proof and can be reset, by the parent, before the next trip.

  • Cell phone/texting killers

  • These devices, available as a key-chain fob or as an app on the teen’s phone prevent the teen from using a cell phone or from texting while the vehicle is in motion.

A variety of personal breathalyzers are available on the market for less than $100. When you are having a hard time convincing a loved one that they have had too much to drink and drive, these devices come give an unbiased evaluation of how much the person has had to drink.

Technology to Prevent Drunk Driving

Closed-Hood Car Jump Starter

When a battery dies, this device allows re-charging a dead battery by connecting a cable to the cigarette lighter or accessories charger on each vehicle, eliminating the need to open the hood and connect battery cables and avoiding the possibility of electrocution.

Auto Association Gift memberships

Memberships in auto associations are available through various insurance and credit card companies. When a vehicle breaks down on the road, membership in an auto association eliminates a lot of worry.

Pet restraints

For your favorite pet, pet restraints are a great auto safety device. You also don’t want them becoming a missile in the event of a collision. There are pet harnesses for all sizes of animals that easily attach to the seat belt mechanism. A restrained pet is a safe pet.

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