Learning to drive

The Best Gifts, Gadgets and Gizmos for Learner Drivers

Ranging from the useless to the ‘how did we live without it’, gadget gifts can sometimes be a one-minute wonder. Not so, in the case of these innovative bits of travel tech. They’re great choices for more experienced drivers too, but if there’s a learner driver in your life, ease them into 2018 with a gadget that helps take the stress out of driving.

Add-On Parking Sensors

bmw 3342135 1920

An increasing number of modern cars come fitted with built-in parking sensors, but a learner driver is more likely to be found driving an old vehicle with no mod-cons than a state-of-the-art car that comes with this technology.

Luckily, there are plenty of choices when it comes to buying an add-on parking sensor. Kits range in price from around £40 to more than £400, meaning there’s something for almost every budget.

Choose from ultrasonic sensors connected to audio alerts, or keep it simple with video-based options that offer full visibility when driving and parking.

Blind Spot Monitors and Mirrors

Each of these serves the same purpose, but they definitely sit at different ends of the budget spectrum.

Add-on blind spot monitors start at around £90 and use sensors to detect nearby vehicles that a car might collide with. While no add-on is quite as advanced as ‘active blind spot monitoring’, where a vehicle may even try to steer itself back to safety, electronic monitors do give drivers a warning alert when another vehicle is getting too close.

If you’re shopping on a slightly smaller budget, a simple blind spot mirror is a good alternative. These start at as little as £5 and though they don’t have any automatic alert function, they do at least offer increased visibility to whoever is driving.

On-Board Diagnostics Plug-Ins

On-board diagnostics tools – or OBDs – give a driver instant access to crucial information about their car. You can monitor everything from battery life to ignition timing issues, fuel injector performance and coolant temperature.

Learner drivers are often so busy going through the motions that getting familiar with vehicle care and maintenance can be forgotten. With an OBD, you can help them keep tabs on the health of their first car without having to fork out for professional check-ups. Simple plug-ins start at around £10, but there are also Bluetooth and Wifi options if you’re looking for a more luxurious gift.

Telematics Devices

Traditionally fitted by the same companies that provide learner driver insurance, you can now purchase telematics devices and have them fitted without an insurer’s involvement.

Combining GPS with those on-board diagnostics previously mentioned, telematics are a clever way to monitor how safely someone drives. You can also get telematics in the form of mobile phone apps, which alert a driver when they are exhibiting signs of bad or unsafe driving – for example speeding, or braking too quickly. Prices for physical telematics devices vary as personal use is fairly new to the market, but treating someone to an upgrade from simple app use allows for more accurate data on their driving.

Dash Cams

Another gadget that can come in handy with insurers, dash cams are a simple way to make sure that clear evidence can be provided in any instances of a crash or collision.

These bits of kit may be behind everything from YouTube fail clips to low-budget music videos, but their primary purpose is just what a learner driver needs. In the event of having to make an insurance claim for an accident that isn’t their fault, learners can dispel any fear of being wrongly held responsible by handing over video proof of what happened.

Some insurers will offer discounts on their premiums for drivers who have a dash cam fitted, but it’s important to pick one that’s of decent quality so the recipient doesn’t end up with blurry footage.

Portable Jump Start Kits

There’s little worse than finding yourself in need of a jump start when no-one’s around to help. Portable jump start kits are essentially a backup power source that allow you to give your car the boost it needs to get going again when the battery has died.

Some portable jump starters come with built-in torches, and some have the ability to pump air back into deflated tyres, making them an ideal choice for learner and new drivers who don’t yet have fully kitted-out cars. Prices start at around £40 for basic models, and you can be sure this is one gadget that will prove a little more pleasing than simply buying jump leads.

Learning to drive and owning your first car are both big milestones that each come with their own stresses and successes. Gift shopping can sometimes feel like a challenge, but any of these clever gizmos are sure to give learner drivers a confidence boost.