My Driving Gift List

Posted by Michael Collins in Life After Paralysis on December 15, 2017 # Mobility, Travel

Driving is one of the liberating experiences that I started looking forward to in my early teens and now hope that I can continue doing into my nineties. For those of us who are paralyzed or have some other significant disability that requires us to use hand controls or ride in specialized vans, the ability to have access to or drive our own vehicle can make a huge difference in the level of independence that we are able to enjoy.

We tend to spend a large part of our adult lives seated in vehicles, especially if daily commuting or business trips involve hours of highway travel each year. The lure of a family 'road trip' is also a desirable type of vacation, and can consume several days. It makes sense to help make that time behind the wheel easier, safer and more enjoyable for all.

Trying to choose the perfect gift for someone can be a challenge, but it is actually fairly easy; most people have a vehicle they drive or ride in most of the time so why not focus on gifts that are automotive oriented? It doesn't matter if the vehicle is driven with hand controls or not, as all of the items that I think are important are classified as accessories and meant to be used in anything that drives.

Unlike some other gift buying guides, none of the items on my personal list are endorsed by brand name or narrowed down to a particular source for purchasing them. A simple browser search online will result in hundreds of listings and prices that may be significantly lower than the groupings assigned to them below.

Cheapest (under $20)

Seat Belt Cutter tool -- being trapped by a seat belt that won't release after an accident is a serious matter so this simple tool should be carried in every vehicle.

Window Hammer -- usually part of the seat belt cutter tool, they are used for breaking car windows if power windows don't work.

Touch Lamps -- with adhesive backings you can stick them anywhere a little extra light might come in handy.

Reachers -- imagine how useful this would be for a driver who uses hand controls and drops car keys on the floor.

Compass -- perfect for anyone who explores the wilderness, or seeks their way home from the grocery store after dark. Great for entertaining kids on long trips as well.

Cellphone charger -- eliminate worries about dead cellphones in emergencies, as phones can be recharged through the cigarette lighter receptacle.

Emergency Flashlight -- hundreds of choices are available in this price range.

Cheap (less than $50)

Fire Extinguisher -- the perfect lifesaving tool; it can suppress a fire while awaiting the arrival of the fire engines.

Tool Kit -- just a few simple tools that can prove handy when items need repair.

First Aid Kit -- the number of people who normally ride in the vehicle should be the determining factor as to how large the first aid kit should be.

Emergency Flashlight/Radio -- hand crank and solar-powered models are available.

Carbon Monoxide detector -- exhaust leaks can prove hazardous to the occupants of a vehicle; these simple devices provide warnings that can save lives.

Not as Inexpensive (but still less than $150)

Portable Wheelchair Ramp -- whether used to escape from a van with an inoperative lift or ramp, or just for visiting friends with a one-step entrance, a portable ramp can save the day.

Auto Detailing -- everyone enjoys a shiny car; a gift certificate for the service can bring a smile at any time.

Road Hazard Insurance -- no more worries about running out of gas, getting a flat tire or breaking down on the road away from home; it is hard to put a price tag on peace of mind.

Hopefully this list will provide some ideas for any last-minute gifts you intend to buy, as it did for me. If you see something on this list that you would like, or need, please share it with your friends and family; you may all be glad that you did.

© 2017 Michael Collins

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.