Saturday, December 13, 2008

Top Gifts for Your Favorite Driver

There are some great gift ideas for people on your list who drive -- and that is all of us. So, instead of another pair of gloves or a scarf, look for things that can help make drives safer, more comfortable, and more fun.

I'm one of those short people whose neck gets chafed by seatbelts, so I would appreciate a cuddly soft wrapper to protect both my neck and the jewelry that sometimes decorates it. Brookstone to the rescue -- with a wrapper made from real Australian sheepskin. And you can't beat the price -- $12.95. The seatbelt cover is available in natural or charcoal color to match your vehicle's interior. There's also full sheepskin seatcovers for $79.95, and despite what you might think, they actually keep you cooler in summer.

Of course you would expect venerable gadget guru HammacherSchlemmer to have a something helpful for driving. The No Blind Spot Rear View Mirror is the same one used by many police officers and professional racecar drivers to eliminate blind spots. The mirror has a 180° field of view -- which is more than three times what standard mirrors offer, and does it all with a seamless and distortion-free image. But back-up cameras only show you the ground, not the traffic behind you on the highway -- this one does -- a panoramic view across an entire five-lane highway. That lets you see all the adjacent vehicles from the moment they begin to pass until they are visible in your peripheral vision. Consider it a $59.95 insurance policy.

Herrington offers a $29.95 multi-port device that plugs into your cigarette lighter socket, to power all your gadgets. Use it to run a laptop or portable DVD, or to recharge batteries while you drive. That's the 110-volt part of it. The USB port powers your iPod, Blackberry, PDA, or camera. There's an overload protector to prevent damage due to operating too much gear, and it's small enough to fit in the glovebox or storage bin in the center console.

Sometimes, we drive too far even in the garage. One trick is to rig a tennis ball on a string from the ceiling, so that you know to stop when the windshield bumps the ball. Or, just get a 'park stop' strip from Griot's Garage, a mini version of those concrete space markets in outdoor parking lots. Cost is $12.99, which is less expensive than the doctor bill for falling off the ladder when you try to tie a tennis ball on a string to your garage ceiling.

Happy holiday, and have many great drives.