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23 Car Gadgets That Make Driving Safer

Here are 23 affordable car gadgets, from backup cameras to LED road flares, that will immediately make driving safer.

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Backup Camera Dashcam

More and more new cars are coming standard with rear backup cameras but with this affordable car gadget, you can add the ability to park safely, back up with ease, and even record in HD what’s happening in front of and behind you to almost any car. The backup cam images appear on your rearview mirror so your eyes will be able to stay focused on the road just like they do today.

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Head’s Up Display Speedometer

Compatible with all vehicles, this handy head’s up speedometer car gadget will help keep you safe on the road. Instead of glancing down at your dashboard’s spread-out displays, the TIMPROVE T600 delivers your vehicle speed, driving direction, voltage, driving distance measurement, driving time, low voltage alarm, over speed alarm, satellite time and number, and altitude all at eye level on top of your dash. Head’s up displays are standard in some luxury cars like the Range Rover’s line of vehicles, but check out the best car deals under $18,000 to which you can add a HUD car gadget.

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Magnetic Phone Holder

Of course you shouldn’t be using your phone while driving but whether you’re switching songs, firing up a new podcast episode, or following Google Maps, this magnetic phone holder will place your smartphone closer to eye level, thus making those glances shorter and safer, sending your eyes back to the road up ahead quicker. These hands-free devices make driving a whole lot better.

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Portable Car Battery Boost

A dead car battery is awkward at best because you need to rely on the kindness of strangers to take time out of their day to pop their hood and give your car a boost—at worst it could put you in an unsafe position if it happens late at night in a parking lot with no one else around. No more of that business with the NOCO Boost Plus, a portable car battery jump solution that can also charge your phones, tablets, and other USB devices. Safely jump start a dead battery in seconds on most gasoline engines up to 6 liters and diesel engines up to 3 liters, and never have to ask a stranger for help in a parking lot again. These 11 other winter driving tips will help keep you and your family safe while on the road in the colder months.

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Teen Driver Mode

The ultimate in driver safety exists in the 2020 Chevrolet Traverse. Parents are able to set maximum speed and audio volume level, and receive reports seeing how their teen driver did behind the wheel. But the best feature is Buckle To Drive technology that will not allow your teen to switch gears out of park or listen to music until all seat belts are buckled. The Buckle to Drive tech is available in Teen Driver Mode in the 2020 Chevy Malibu and Colorado as well. Slap a reflective New Driver magnetic bumper sticker onto the back and sides of the car to help keep your teen driver even safer on the road.

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GPS Tracker

A free year of service means you’ll always know where your vehicle is, via a real-time smartphone app. This Vyncs GPS tracker car gadget will keep your vehicle safe and give you peace of mind when your teens take your car for a spin.

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Dog Seat Belt

Driving with your pup can be charming but to keep you in the front seat and your dog in the back as safe as possible while in motion, this Duke & Dixie dog seat belt is a must-own car gadget, whether you’re going around the block or across the country with your canine best friend.

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Emergency Escape Tool

Few car gadgets are as affordable and as essential as this escape tool. Sold as a two-pack, each contains a seat belt cutter and double-tipped emergency car window hammer made of high-grade carbon steel to safely and quickly crack the glass to escape in an accident. Here are the weird car features you didn’t know your car could have. Know what to do if you find yourself in any of these roadside emergency situations.

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Smart Car Charger

This nonda ZUS Smart car charger doesn’t look like anything special but it is actually many car gadgets in one. Charge your phone with lightning speed while also monitoring your car battery’s health, plus get the ability to find your car using GPS and receive parking meter alerts. Sometimes it might not be a good idea to charge your phone in your car.

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Portable Air Compressor Pump

Never search for a gas station with an air pump, or quarters to feed that air pump, again with this Helteko Portable air compressor pump. Using your car’s power, this car gadget lets you quickly and safely refill your tires air no matter where you are. The LCD digital display and auto-shutoff means you will always inflate your tires to the perfect PSI for safe driving. See what you need to keep in your car’s winter survival kit.

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Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Freeing up a cigarette lighter input for another car gadget, this clever TPMS tire pressure monitoring system using wireless solar power to keep you up to date on the safety and status of your tires PSI and temperature data. These are the most reliable cars on the road today that barely ever need a mechanic.

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Blindspot Mirror

Such a simple addition to your side mirrors provides a wide-angle view to increase safety on the road and help you avoid accidents. This car gadget, sold in a two-pack for both of your mirrors, offers 360-degree rotation and 20-degree sway to eliminate blind spots as you drive, park, and back up.

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Car Vacuum

You may think, “how will a vacuum keep me safe on the road?” The answer is simple: a clean and tidy car is one less distraction, one less annoyance, meaning your mind is uncluttered like the cabin of your ride. Using your car’s power, the strong suction of the ThisWorx car vacuum will have your ride immaculately clean. Stop losing things in the cracks of your car seats when you add this item.

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Sunglass Visor Clip

Sometimes being safe on the road comes down to the small details. Having your sunglasses clipped and within easy reach serves to keep your center console that much more tidy and puts your shades at your fingertips for when you round a bend and find your car pointing directly into the setting sun in the west.

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First-aid Kit

Every vehicle should probably come standard with a first aid kit but because they don’t, you should invest the small sum of money to keep all the essential first aid tools handy in the case of minor scrapes in and out of the car. This waterproof, medical-grade, FDA-approved first aid kit includes everything from a whistle to a compressed towel and also comes with a flashlight.

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Car Air Freshener

Containing no fragrance, plastics or chemicals, this 100 percent bamboo charcoal air freshener is ideal for drivers and passengers with asthma as well as those suffering through the stuffy noses standard with seasonal allergies. Lasting more than a year, this PURGGO air freshener car gadget eliminates odor making your car’s cabin a safer and more pleasant place to be. Here’s how you can make your own car air freshener.

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UV Ray Window Shades With Heat Alert

Keep your backseat passengers cool and safe from the sun’s harmful rays with these UV protective window shades. This affordable car gadget includes a white-hot indicator that will turn white when the car is too hot, helping to keep everyone safe while driving in the dead of summer.

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LED Road Flares

Flares are one of the most useful car gadgets to keep you safe in the event of a breakdown or accident. These Gear Gurus LED road flares are safe and easy to use, highly visible with a bright red flashing light to signal your emergency and warn approaching vehicles to slow down. Sold in a three-pack and ready to use with batteries and screwdriver included, road flare discs are a must-have car gadget. Keep this roadside emergency guide in your car to prepare for the unexpected.

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Digital Wireless Backup Camera

If your vehicle doesn’t have a backup camera, this ingenious car gadget allows you to install a wireless digital backup cam quickly and affordably. Using a five-inch LCD monitor mounted onto your dashboard and a waterproof camera in the back, you will be able to reverse safely and park with ease. Some pre-owned cars come with backup cameras; if you’re in the market for one, find out the cars you should—and shouldn’t—buy used.

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Baby Car Mirror

This 360-degree, adjustable and easy-to-pivot Shynerk baby car mirror provides you with a crystal clear view of your precious cargo in the backseat while you drive safely to your destination. A good baby car mirror to ensure your baby is happy and safe in the car, and remind you that they are back there when you park, is a must-own car gadget for every new parent.

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Car Visor Extender

There are times when the sun will outsmart and outmaneuver your car’s sun visor. That’s why this car gadget is so handy. A car visor extender will work overtime by providing more coverage downward and to the sides, to block more of the sunshine from your field of vision while driving, keeping you and your passengers safer in the process. Here’s how to handle 11 scary driving situations, including driving into the bright sun.

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Bluetooth Adapter

The introduction of Bluetooth technology in cars has surely made us safer drivers; no more fumbling for CDs or frantically changing the radio station when a song we hate comes on. But many older cars don’t have Bluetooth, which makes this car gadget so great. Using an FM signal and a cigarette lighter input, you can add a Bluetooth connection no matter what car you drive.

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Check Engine Light Diagnostic Tool

Oh no, the dreaded check engine light. No worries, this clever, affordable obd2 check engine scanner car gadget is a diagnostic tool that can quickly read, help you resolve the reasons the engine light is on, tell you what’s wrong with your car engine, and erase DTC (engine fault codes). This is a car gadget that will save you money on car maintenance and keep you safe on the road when that light comes on.

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Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

Jeff Bogle
Jeff Bogle is a dad of daughters, herder of house cats, award-winning photographer, avid traveler, and English football fanatic who has had the privilege of writing stories for Esquire, PBS, Good Housekeeping, Time Out New York, and Trip Advisor's Family Vacation Critic, among other fine publications.