Carpooling Safety and Etiquette

By: Kent Basson
Carpooling safety and etiquette

With rapidly rising fuel prices has come increased interest in carpooling. There are two major forms of carpooling: the familiar fixed carpools, in which the same people ride to work together, and casual carpooling, which involves the formation of ad hoc, informal carpools at park and ride lots. This article addresses only the former type of carpooling. The latter form will be addressed in a separate article.

If you work at the same place or live in a small town, odds are that you know people in common who can vouch for the character of each of you to the other. You should also not be shy about asking to see proof of insurance or offended if your prospective partner asks the same of you. Depending on the distance of your commute, you may be spending two hours per day with the other person, so it is important to have a good match.

Especially in the beginning, passengers may want to be picked up at places other than their homes for safety reasons. An unscrupulous person who knows, e.g., where you live, that you live alone, and your work schedule can use that information for burglary or other nefarious purposes. It is unlikely that your personal information would be used for such purposes by other carpoolers, but you may not want to take that chance. That is why some carpooling websites such as RideshareOptimizer.com note that you may want to list your pick-up location as a public place near your home such as a school or store.

Your mother probably taught you the Golden Rule, which is the basis of carpool - and most other - etiquette, but just in case you are a little rusty, here are a few basic guidelines for carpooling.

? Establish meeting points and times, and drop-off locations. Stick to those times because few things end carpools quicker than habitually late passengers and/or drivers. Establish a waiting time after which the rider will be left behind.

? If more than one person will be driving, prepare a schedule. If there are members of the carpool who do not drive or drive less than others, they should reach agreement with other carpoolers as to providing compensation for expenses of those who do drive. Although local laws and insurance rules usually prevent drivers' actually charging passengers, contributions are always welcome, while freeloaders are rarely welcome.

? Exchange contact information with other carpoolers and contact drivers when you will not be riding so they are not sitting outside your house or the parking lot at your work waiting for you. Drivers may want to contact passengers as they near pick-up points so that the passengers do not end up waiting outside any longer than necessary.

? All carpoolers should come to agreement regarding issues such as smoking, music or other entertainment, whether food and drinks are allowed in cars, etc. Fortunately, passengers have plenty of options for privately listening to their own music, talk radio, etc. It may be that some riders prefer quiet so they can read or sleep.

? Drivers must keep their cars clean and tidy. No one wants to ride in a dirty car or share their leg room with items needlessly left in the car.

? Drive carefully. Aggressive driving or exceeding the speed limit may make some passengers nervous.

? Don't stop for errands along the way. Save them for after you drop off all passengers.

? Minimize the use of cologne and perfume. Some have allergies and others may simply not share your appreciation of the scent.

? Take care of personal hygiene matters before your ride arrives.

Following the above guidelines will greatly improve your odds of having a successful carpool.

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