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30 Car Gadgets That Make Driving Safer

Staying safe on the road isn’t just about your driving skills. These genius inventions can help you avoid accidents and provide lifesaving help in case of an emergency.

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Safety first

There’s a lot to think about before hopping into your car and driving off into the sunset (or to work, as the case may be)—or at least there should be. For example, it’s important to get your car ready for winter to avoid potential problems and to stock it with items that can help you in case of an accident, and it’s equally important to have the right items to avoid a potential emergency. Lucky for you, there are numerous car gadgets on the market that can enhance your vehicle and make driving safer, more intuitive, and just plain better.

These are the items you didn’t know you needed but now won’t know how you ever lived without. We’re talking about a device that boosts your cell signal so that you never lose touch in remote areas, a backup camera that helps you park with ease, a genius invention that tells you why the dreaded Check Engine light is on, and so much more. This is the technology you need to protect yourself, your family, and other drivers on the road. Pair this knowledge with these car hacks that will also improve your time on the road and you’ll be excited to get in your car again.

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Cell phone booster kitvia

Cell phone signal booster

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If you’re ever stranded in a remote location, you’ll definitely want this handy gadget in your car. It will extend your cell signal’s range and could be your lifeline to getting help. This model from WeBoost works with Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and all other wireless carriers, and is 5G ready, so it’s ready to go as soon as you are. Plus, it’s great when you’re not stranded, too. It will help your phone drop fewer calls, activate better hotspots even in faraway locations, and provide a faster Internet connection.

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Back seat organizer

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Are your pint-sized passengers turning your back seat into a disaster area—or constantly asking you for snacks, drinks, and toys while you’re driving? You need an over-the-seat organizer to keep things tidy and together so that you stay sane and safe on the road. This two-pack from UCart provides a system of pockets for water bottles, tablets, games, juice boxes, markers, notepads, and so much more. This will eliminate the need for you to dangerously reach back while driving to help your kids find the stuff they want. It’s also one of the secrets of people who always have clean cars.

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Electric blanket

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If you live in a cold climate, you should have an electric blanket in your car for emergency situations. This super-soft, 12-volt electric fleece blanket from Stalwart easily plugs into any car, truck, or SUV cigarette lighter, heats up fast, and will keep you warm until help arrives. It also comes with a 96-inch cord, so your passengers can stay toasty on a regular road trip, too. These 11 other winter driving tips will also help keep you and your family safe.

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Hand sanitizer pump for cup holders

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These days, staying safe while driving goes far beyond tire pressure, sun shades, and keeping your brakes in tip-top shape. Whether you’re commuting or embarking on a road trip during the pandemic, you should have a few coronavirus-related items in your car, and it’s smart to keep hand sanitizer readily accessible. This clever and affordable PumpCup hand sanitizer dispenser fits neatly into a car’s cup holder, comes in a variety of colors and styles, and will help keep COVID and other germs away from you and your passengers.

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Clamping smartphone holder

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Strong suction and wireless charging make this iOttie clamping smartphone holder a must-own. You’ll drive safer because it won’t dislodge from the dashboard mid-drive, and your phone will always be charged should you face an emergency during your journey. Bonus: It works with both iPhones and Androids. Check out these other cell phone accessories you’ll end up using every day.

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Rearview mirror camera

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Most new cars now come standard with a rear backup camera, but with this affordable car gadget from TOGUARD, 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 older car. The backup camera video appears on your rearview mirror, so your eyes will be able to stay focused on the road just like they normally do. Make sure you’re not making any of these subtle driving mistakes that could get you pulled over.

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Head-up display speedometer

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Compatible with all vehicles, this handy head-up speedometer 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-up displays (also known as HUDs) are standard in some luxury cars like the Range Rover’s line of vehicles, but check out the best car deals under $18,000 and consider adding this gadget to the one you choose.

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Noco car battery boostvia

Portable car battery boost

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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. That’s why you need 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 you’ll never have to ask a stranger for help in a parking lot again. By the way, here’s how long car batteries last.

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Portable EV car charger

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Any electric vehicle owner knows how terrifying range anxiety can be. Instead of worrying if the battery is strong enough to get you to your destination or if there’s a charging station along the way, keep this MUSTART portable EV charger in your trunk. That way, you’ll always have an extra charge to get you there or to get you home safely. Thinking of going electric? These are the most fuel-efficient cars on the road today, including many electric vehicles that get well over 200 miles on a single charge!

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New driver bumper stickervia

Teen Driver Mode

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The ultimate in teen driver safety exists in a full range of Chevrolet vehicles. Parents are able to set maximum speed and audio volume level, as well as receive reports about how their teen driver did behind the wheel. But the best feature is the Buckle to Drive technology, which doesn’t allow your teen to switch gears out of park or listen to music until all seat belts are buckled. The lifesaving Buckle to Drive tech is available in Teen Driver Mode on three Chevy cars, too. For an added precaution, slap a reflective New Driver magnetic bumper sticker onto the back and sides of the car. This will alert other drivers to the situation at hand, keeping your teen even safer on the road while he or she gets accustomed to the speed, the car, and these confusing road signs.

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Handbag holdervia

Handbag holder

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While a back seat organizer is a terrific management tool for those in the rear of the car, a handbag holder can help keep the front of your car organized by providing the perfect spot for your purse. The quilted style of this leather BXKM contraption is reminiscent of a Chanel handbag, so you’ll be adding a luxe touch to your everyday ride, too. Don’t miss these other organizing tools with practically perfect reviews on Amazon.

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GPS tracker

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

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Dog seat belt

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Driving with your pup can be sweet, but if your dog isn’t restrained, it can be a serious hazard. To keep both you and your dog as safe as possible, this Duke & Dixie dog seat belt is a must-have, whether you’re going around the block or across the country with your canine best friend. Here are another 15 items every dog owner needs in their car.

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emergency escape tool for carsvia

Emergency escape tool

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Few car gadgets are as affordable and essential as this emergency escape tool from VicTsing. Sold as a two-pack for just $10, each tool contains a seat belt cutter and double-tipped car-window hammer made of high-grade carbon steel to safely and quickly crack the glass in case you’re trapped after an accident. Your vehicle might actually have a few of these weird car features.

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smart car phone chargervia

Smart car charger

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This Nonda ZUS smart car charger doesn’t look like anything special, but it’s 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.

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portable compressor pumpvia

Portable air compressor pump

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Have this Helteko portable tire pump on hand and you’ll never again have to search for a gas station with an air pump—or search for quarters to feed that air pump. Using your car’s power, this 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. If you need to pull over for a pump of air, make sure you know exactly how and when to use your hazard lights.

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magnetic phone holdervia

Magnetic phone holder

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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 Bestrix magnetic phone holder will place your smartphone closer to eye level, thus making those glances shorter and sending your eyes back to the road up ahead quicker.

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tire pressure monitor via

Tire pressure monitoring system

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Free up a cigarette lighter input for another car gadget by using this clever Tymate tire pressure monitoring system, which is charged automatically with solar energy. (It also can be charged by the cigarette lighter when there is no sun.) It will keep you up to date on the safety and status of your tires’ PSI and temperature data. FYI, these are the 12 tires car experts buy for their own cars.

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Blind spot mirror

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This simple, inexpensive addition to your side mirrors provides a wide-angle view that increases safety on the road and helps you avoid accidents. Sold in a two-pack for both of your mirrors, they offer 360-degree rotation and 20-degree sway to eliminate blind spots as you drive, park, and back up.

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car vacuumvia

Car vacuum

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How can a vacuum keep you safe on the road? The answer is simple: A clean car is one less distraction, one less annoyance while driving, meaning your mind is uncluttered like the cabin of your ride so you’re able to focus all of your attention on the road ahead and the other drivers around you. Using your car’s power, the strong suction of the affordable ThisWorx car vacuum will keep your ride immaculate.

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sun glasses holder for the carvia

Visor clip for sunglasses

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Being safe on the road often comes down to the small details. Having your sunglasses clipped and within easy reach will keep your center console that much more tidy and put 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 for the carvia

First-aid kit

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Investing a small sum of money to keep essential first-aid tools handy in the case of minor scrapes in and out of the car is not only smart—it’s also an easy way to keep you and your family safer on the road. This waterproof, medical-grade, FDA-approved kit costs less than $15 and includes everything from bandages and a sting-relief pad to an emergency blanket and a flashlight.

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car air purifiervia

Car air purifier

Sure, air purifiers are all the rage in homes these days, but do you need one in your car? It’s a really smart idea, given just how many pollutants you encounter during a drive. This small Pure air purifier, which sits in your car’s 12V outlet and runs silently, deodorizes smoke, pet smells, mold, and food odors while also removing airborne pollutants like viruses, pollen, allergens, bacteria, and dust. The air in your vehicle will be instantly cleaner, reducing sneezes (which can be hazardous while driving) and eliminating harmful invisible viruses. Plus, at just $24.99, it’s super affordable.

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car air freshenervia

Air freshener

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Containing no fragrance, plastics, or chemicals, this 100 percent bamboo charcoal air freshener from PURGGO is ideal for drivers and passengers with asthma, as well as those suffering from stuffy noses due to seasonal allergies. It’ll last for more than a year, eliminating odor and making your car’s cabin a more pleasant place to be. If you want to change it up with a different scent for your car, you may like some of the scents of these best car air fresheners.

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car UV ray window protectorvia

UV-ray window shades with heat alert

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Keep your back seat passengers cool and safe from the sun’s harmful rays with a pair of these UV-protective Munchkin Brica window shades. They each include a white-hot indicator that turns white when the car is too hot, helping to keep everyone safe while driving in the dead of summer or while road-tripping through national parks like Death Valley and Zion.

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baby mirror for the carvia

Baby mirror

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This 360-degree, adjustable, and easy-to-pivot Shynerk baby car mirror provides you with a crystal-clear view of your precious cargo when they’re in a rear-facing car seat. It will give you peace of mind and ensure that your baby is happy and safe while you’re driving, as well as remind you that they are back there when you park. It’s a must-own for every new parent.

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LED road flares kitvia

LED road flares

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Flares are one of the most useful car items to keep you safe in the event of a breakdown or accident. These Gear Gurus LED road flare discs 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. They are sold in a three-pack and are ready to use, with batteries and a screwdriver included.

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Car visor extender

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There are times when the sun will outsmart and outmaneuver your car’s sun visor. That’s why this TFY car shade is so handy. It works 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 10 scary driving situations, including driving into the bright sun.

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bluetooth car adaptervia

Bluetooth adapter

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The introduction of Bluetooth technology in cars has surely made us safer while driving—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 gadget so great. Using an FM signal and a cigarette lighter input, you can add a Bluetooth connection to any car and start driving safer immediately.

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Mechanic diagnostic tool for car enginesvia

Check Engine light diagnostic tool

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Oh, no—the dreaded Check Engine light! This clever and affordable OBD2 diagnostic tool from Foxwell helps you quickly figure out and resolve the reasons the engine light is on, tell you what’s wrong with your car engine, and erase DTC (engine fault codes). Addressing problems like this quickly will help extend the life of your car.

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Jeff Bogle
Jeff Bogle is an Iris Award–winning photographer, avid traveler and English football fanatic who regularly covers travel, culture, cars, health, business, the environment and more for Reader's Digest. He is the proud dad of teen daughters.