Tips for choosing gifts and driving apps for new drivers

Commemorating someone's accomplishments with a gift is a great way to demonstrate how much you care about them. For new drivers, earning their first license is a major milestone that brings about numerous life changes. Whether it’s your child, friend, cousin or anyone important in your life, they will benefit greatly from knowing you support their new adventures on the road. If you know someone who is a new driver, getting them the right gift can make them feel valued and help them navigate the challenges they may face on the road.

Safety is one of the most prominent concerns for many families with new drivers. There are significant hazards that come with driving, and the CDC reports that drivers aged 16 to 19 have a higher  risk of motor vehicle crashes than any other age group. Fortunately, there are a variety of apps and gifts that can help increase driver safety and help newer motorists get more comfortable on the road.


A dashboard camera, or “dashcam,” is a gift that’s both fun and practical for new drivers. As the name implies, dashcams are mounted to a car’s dashboard and used to continually record the view through the front windshield. Many modern dashcams have built-in Wi-Fi that enables them to connect directly to a smartphone, making it much easier to view and share the footage. This can be helpful for concerned parents of new drivers and exciting for young drivers that want to record their time on the road without being distracted.

Dashcams can be used to record accidents, create scenic videos and retroactively analyze one’s behavior on the road. In addition to providing entertainment and helping promote good driving habits, the footage from a dashcam can be used to disprove fault in the case of an accident. This is particularly useful for families with new motorists, as inexperienced drivers may be perceived as being more likely to cause collisions.

Backup cam

A rearview camera, or “backup cam,” is used to record the view from the back of a car rather than the front. Similar to dashcams, they can be used to help resolve accident-related disputes and save young drivers from receiving undue blame. Moreover, backup cams can help reduce the risk of accidents occurring in the first place by eliminating blindspots in the rear of the car. This can be especially advantageous for new drivers as they become familiar with multi-step maneuvers, like parallel parking and K-turns.

Since 2018, rear visibility technology has been required in all new vehicles sold in the United States, in accordance with a 2014 rule proposed by the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency. Many cars with built-in backup cameras also come equipped with object detection features that automatically alert the driver if something is in their path.

Drivers with older cars can purchase aftermarket backup cams separately and mount them to their vehicles. While it’s not as convenient as having a built-in camera, buying an aftermarket camera gives you the ability to choose the specific type of camera and display system that you want to use.

Driving safety apps

In addition to hardware, there are also a variety of safe driving apps available that can help reduce accident risk and give families of new drivers peace of mind. There are several notable types of driver safety apps that you can consider.  Verizon Smart Family Premium allows you to see when your family members are on the move and get trip details like phone use, speeding, hard braking, and crash detection.  

Vehicle tracking apps

These apps can track your vehicle directly from a smartphone or computer. Many modern car tracking systems, such as Verizon’s Hum app, include a variety of additional features such as In-Vehicle Wi-Fi, maintenance reminders and diagnostic programs. Hum also includes a safety-scoring feature that analyzes driving, helping young drivers learn to identify and correct bad road habits through first-hand experience. 

Distraction-free apps

Crashes involving a distracted driver leads to the deaths of about 3,000 Americans each year and is an especially prominent concern for families of younger drivers. Fortunately, there are a number of different apps that can stop people from texting while driving. When installed on a smartphone, these apps can silence any notifications that the phone’s owner receives while they’re driving. Some distraction-free apps, such as LifeSaver, can automatically detect when you’re driving and activate themselves, while others must be turned on manually. In addition to reducing the risk of a distracted-driving accident, using one of these apps can help reinforce responsible road behaviors in younger motorists. 

Roadside assistance apps

There are many different variables to account for when you’re driving, and car problems sometimes happen unpredictably. For new drivers, dealing with an issue like a stalled engine or flat tire alone may be too much to ask. Sudden car trouble can leave drivers stranded and in danger, particularly if they’re stuck on a major highway. Roadside assistance apps can provide new drivers with the means to request service instantly from their phones, without having to know their exact location. These apps can help save new drivers time and money in the event of unexpected car trouble, as well as provide them and their families with valuable peace of mind. 

Each of these apps has its own specific features and functions, and many new drivers may benefit from using more than one. It's important to research your options in order to determine the best safe driving apps for the new motorist in your life.

Tire pressure gauge

Monitoring and maintaining proper tire pressure is an important part of owning a car. Driving around with low pressure can cause tires to wear down more quickly and increase the risk of a blowout on the road. This can create a significant safety hazard and increase your expenses over time by forcing you to replace your tires more frequently. Equipping new drivers with a tire pressure gauge can help them reduce the risk of blowout-related accidents and teach them the value of responsible auto care.

While modern cars are required to have built-in tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), these systems are only required to detect when pressure falls at least 25% percent below the manufacturer's recommendation, which many advocates argue is not soon enough to provide sufficiently early warning. Utilizing a handheld gauge in addition to a car’s built-in TPMS can improve the accuracy of readings and help prevent sudden malfunctions by enabling earlier detection of problems.

Portable air compressor

While monitoring tire pressure can help reduce the risk of sudden flats and blowouts, it cannot prevent them with 100% certainty. Drivers should always be prepared to deal with unexpected tire deflation. For this reason, a portable air compressor is an extremely practical gift for new drivers.

Portable air compressors are essentially more-compact versions of the stationary air compressors used by contractors and mechanics. In emergency situations, portable compressors can be used to refill tires with relative ease, which can save drivers the trouble and cost of calling a tow truck. They are also highly useful for maintenance purposes, as they can eliminate the need to visit a tire pump station for routine refilling.

First aid kit

An in-car first aid kit is another very practical gift that can help new drivers stay prepared for a wide range of emergency situations. In the event of an auto accident or medical emergency on the road, it’s important to act quickly. Early care can lead to improved outcomes and faster recovery times for victims. Having a well-stocked first aid kit in your vehicle can enable you to provide initial care for victims of accidents and other emergencies, which can help prevent their injuries from worsening before first responders arrive.

There are a variety of items that can be included in a first aid kit, and you may want to customize your kit according to the needs of the recipient. However, some types of basic supplies should be always included, such as adhesive bandages, gauze, medical tape, hand sanitizer, antiseptic cream and pain relief medication like ibuprofen. Consumers also have the option to buy pre-made first aid kids that come equipped with the essentials.

The importance of choosing practical gifts

While many new drivers might be more interested in fun gifts, like hood ornaments and steering wheel covers, safety-focused gifts can provide much more substantial long-term benefits. These apps and gift ideas can reduce the risk of accidents, increase emergency preparedness and reinforce responsible driving habits in young drivers. Additionally, some safety-related gifts, such as dashcams, can be both practical and entertaining.