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Carpooling Etiquette: 10 Ground Rules To Keep Your Sanity

Posted March 6th, 2012 in Cars, Frugal Living by Jeremy Waller

The following is a guest post from Alex Kelly. Thanks Alex!

Whether it’s rising gas prices, the cost of parking or just the frustration that can come with the daily commute, there are many reasons why you may be considering forming a carpool. Carpooling, or sharing a ride with others headed to the same destination, can help you save money and wear on your vehicle.

There are two primary types of carpools: those for work and those for parents whose children participate in extracurricular activities. You can also find ride-sharing options for long-distance trips and errands such as doctor appointments and grocery shopping.

Regardless of the type, any carpool requires certain logistics and ground rules in order to work effectively. Use these 10 carpooling tips to get started.

  1. Dividing the cost. If all passengers take turns driving, then each can assume the full cost when he or she is the driver. If the carpool has people who are only riding and never driving, then you might consider equally splitting the cost of gas, vehicle wear and tear, parking and tolls. Consult AAA’s driving cost assessment to help with the math.
  2. Finalizing the carpool participants. Decide who will be carpooling and how you’ll split the driving.
  3. Coordinating pick-up and drop-off. You have several options: meeting at a central location, meeting at the driver’s house or having the driver stop at each residence.
  4. Dealing with tardiness. Establish how long the driver will wait for latecomers. A window of five minutes is generally acceptable.
  5. Deciding how often to carpool. Carpooling even a few times a week can help lessen the cost of driving and reduce stress. For passengers who have occasional obligations before or after work, a daily commitment just isn’t feasible.
  6. Etiquette in the car. One of the best carpooling tips is to discuss what is acceptable in terms of music, cell phones, food, smoking and scents like air fresheners, perfumes or cologne. This can prevent a lot of tension.
  7. Emergency arrangements. Come up with a plan to follow when the driver is suddenly unavailable. Advance notice would be best, but if it’s a family emergency or the car won’t start, you don’t always know ahead of time. Be sure to exchange contact information so everyone can be notified.
  8. Vehicle requirements. While you can’t control the cars that others drive, your carpool group may want to insist on certain standards, such as the number of seats, full coverage car insurance, cleanliness or safety features. Passengers whose cars don’t meet the requirements must be riders only.
  9. Discussing driving records. Have an honest discussion about accidents, speeding tickets and more serious offenses before you start carpooling. If any participant’s driving record is less than desirable, don’t be shy about asking that person not to drive.
  10. Agreeing on a policy for extra stops. Talk about whether you will allow time for stops on the way. It can be a great inconvenience for others in the carpool if you insist that the vehicle make unplanned stops at the pharmacy or dry cleaner.

Finally, be sure to check your vehicle insurance policy to see if it mentions carpooling. You want to be sure you have enough coverage to protect against the unexpected. If you’re not satisfied with your current insurance, consider shopping around for a better package.

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4 Responses so far.

  1. My husband and I just started carpooling to work together 100% – thankfully we don’t need all this extra coordination! But we did make a plan for how to get around if our car is unavailable or being used exclusively by one of us. Carpooling is also forcing us to discuss “extra stops” to run errands, which makes for better-planned-out days.

  2. I’ve never been a part of a carpool, but I would be pissed if some of my carpoolers were tardy. I’d just leave them behind!

  3. A funny experience: we once had a women car pool with us, and her feet smelled terrible!

  4. Nice tips! I’ve been a car-pooler for the last 7 years. You really have to remember to keep an open mind and make the best of the time you spend together – listening to stories, being a confidant, and sometimes just being quiet. Text messaging works really well for communicating last minute changes or when you’re running late. And … it’s okay to sleep.

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