When Your Car is Your Office

When Your Car is Your Office

Mark Simmonds
If you're always on the go, the world is your office-which might be your car. This is the case for many, considering that the average American spends 42 hours in traffic (and an extra $1,400 extra every year because of it).

Whether it's attending a meeting while driving across state or firing off emails in a fast food parking lot, there's a lot you can get done on the road. Consider these tips to help maximize your mobile work time while driving safely.

Avoid distracted driving at all costs

First things first, don't try to work and drive at the same time. This may sound obvious, but we all know how tempting it can be to "quickly" check an email or a text.

Distracted driving was responsible for 3,477 fatal motor accidents in 2015 alone, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. An ecosystem of gadgets beckoning with lights and audio notifications can easily combine all types in one fell swoop, greatly increasing the likelihood of distraction.

The latest hands-free devices, such as these 2017 models compared by BestAdvisor, come with superior clarity, refined noise cancelling, voice-driven commands for safer driving, and some can stream surround-sound music through your car's speakers.

A hands-free device may seem to be safer, but it can be just as distracting as a typical cell phone and should only be adjusted while stationary or in an emergency. If receiving or responding to a call or text is important, pull off the road to a safe location first.

Purchase a traveling Wi-Fi router

For internet access anywhere, most phones can be turned into a Wi-Fi hot spot, but depending on your service provider, that hot spot might be unreliable. Better yet, purchase a small, mobile router.

These handy devices can store files, provide a secure VPN connection and act as a signal booster when other Wi-Fi networks are available. Having reliable internet access can be especially handy if you're marooned on the side of the road, but keep in mind that a portable router is limited to the same coverage as your cellular plan.

Invest in an all-in-one portable printer

If you frequently scan, copy or print hard documents, having a portable multifunctional printer in your vehicle can be convenient. Usually weighing about three pounds, and the size of a hardcover book, certain models can even produce labels or wallet-sized photos.

Keep track of mileage for tax purposes

Mileage tracking apps automatically log, categorize and calculate the accumulated value of your routes. Plus, all of your data can be saved into the Cloud and exported when it's time to start filing.

Download a stay-awake app

UCLA Sleep Disorders Center studies show that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence. Fatigued drivers are susceptible to bouts of micro-sleep and often unaware of episodes.

Most anti-sleep apps use algorithms to monitor cues like head position and blinking rate to gauge drowsiness, and will sound an alarm if necessary. Others mimic a live passenger that asks you to repeat words; if you miss a word, an alarm goes off.

These apps can help you stay awake or, better yet, prompt you to pull over to a safe location and take measures to wake up or get rest.

Adequately maintain and insure your car

If you're on the road frequently, your car is likely exposed to increased risks, from unusual wear-and-tear to unpredictable weather. For this reason, it's important to ensure your coverage is up to par for the amount of driving you do, and the locations in which you do it.

It's important to note that a standard car insurance policy typically doesn't cover commercial ventures. If permanent equipment like ladder racks, altered suspension, catering equipment or hydraulic lifts is installed in your vehicle, you might need commercial car insurance.

Additionally, it's wise to safeguard your mobile office with an anti-theft system. Not only can it protect your valuables, but it can save money on your premium. In the event of a theft, valuables in the vehicle may be covered by your homeowner or renter's insurance.

Keep your priorities in order

Prioritizing safe driving above all else is absolutely crucial. No one's immune to the perils of distracted and tired driving. That said, eat before you drive, program the GPS before you hit the road, frequently check those mirrors, and, again, pull over to get some shuteye, when necessary.

Mark Simmonds is the Managing Director and Chief Product Officer at Esurance. His 20 years of insurance industry experience, with expertise in product, underwriting, auto insurance, finance and operations, helps shape his writing.

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