With less than two weeks to go until Santa's arrival, it's time to get your shopping wrapped up. If you've been asleep at the wheel, lucky for you it's also time for the Doc's annual roundup of favorite gifts for the road warrior in your life. And for all you reluctant shoppers who are loath to enter the insanity that is the shopping mall, the good news is you can find cool stuff for drivers in discount retailers such as Target, Kmart, Walmart and even in some grocery stores.
Here's the Doc's 2010 idea list:
Cartoon character floor mats, steering wheel and seat covers. Walmart carries the PlastiColor line of DC Comic-licensed items separately or in boxed gift sets featuring favorites such as Superman, Betty Boop and Tinkerbell. Prices range from $10 per item to $25 for a set, which includes all three items plus a window decal. If you're not up for cartoon characters, you can pick up an Ed Hardy wheel cover for $10.
How about some of those adorable window decals depicting your family members as chalk people in a lineup? Of course the Doc wonders what the attraction to these things might be, but the lineups that feature more animal decals than humans are always interesting. I think the record so far is a minivan I followed recently that displayed outlines of two humans and seven felines. Hmm. Anyway, they start about $4.99 and go up depending on the size of your brood/herd.
The Justin Case Travel Pro is a handy-dandy first aid and emergency road kit packed into a lightweight black and red canvas bag that's a little bit bigger than a typical lunch box. In addition to first aid supplies, the roadside emergency supplies include jumper cables, canned tire inflator and sealer, blanket, flashlight, and batteries. We found it at Walmart for $19.95 and the comparable Lifeline AAA Road Kit at Target for $39.99.
The Craftsman programmable digital tire gauge will help keep your loved one from driving around on underinflated tires. The gauge features an extra large backlight display and it beeps when the gauge locks in the pressure reading. We found these little stocking stuffers at Kmart for $14.95.
The Black Magic Bullet is perfect for neat freaks who cannot abide dirt and gunk on their fancy schmancy custom rims. This microfiber wheel polisher attaches to a standard drill bit and goes to town on road dust like a mini carwash, cleaning and polishing wheel rims in a jiff. It runs about $24 at most retailers.
Portable GPS. What's great about the newest GPS units is that they are affordable, lightweight and, once they get you to where you're going and safely parked, can be popped into your pocket to guide you in pedestrian mode. We spotted a GPS perfect for a directionally challenged loved one at Walmart for just $99.
Gasoline gift cards. The Doc sure could have used a fistful of these back in high school. Chevron, BP and Shell cards can be picked up in the time it takes for a drive-by of the nearest Publix in $25 and $50 denominations.
Too much to drink? AAA can help get you home
Have a happy and safe holiday, folks, and above all, avoid drinking and driving. Get your designated drivers lined up now. If all else fails, remember that AAA offers anyone a safe, confidential free ride home during the holidays, no questions asked, through Jan. 2. The Tow To Go program will drive your car onto a tow truck bed and give you both a lift home if you have imbibed too much and find yourself without a sober driver. The program, which is a partnership between AAA Auto Club South and Budweiser, has provided more than 11,650 folks with safe rides home since 1998. Program the number, 1-800-222-4357, into your phone now, just in case.
Until next week, happy and safe motoring!
E-mail Dr. Delay at email@example.com to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions. Questions selected for publication may be edited for space and clarity.