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carpool survival tips

Carpools are beneficial arrangements for busy moms. But there's a bit more to them than just alternating driving days.

Being part of a carpool implies a commitment both on your end and on the other moms'.

These 10 carpool survival tips can help ensure a successful arrangement for all involved.

Make Sure You Have Enough Liability Insurance

Before you firm up a carpool arrangement with other parents, consider the following: Do you have enough liability insurance?

The minimum usually won't go very far if you are involved in a serious accident.

Yes, I know. You're a safe driver. But what about the uninsured motorist who plows into you at the stop sign, injuring several kids in your car? 

Who do you think the other parents (and their insurance companies) will sue to make sure their children get the best medical care?

Many schools require a minimum of $300,000 liability for field-trip drivers. So there's a ballpark number for you. At least check with your insurance agent to see where you have enough coverage to feel safe.

Here are my top 10 carpool survival tips:

1.    Choose Carpool Participants Wisely

Choose your carpool participants wisely.

Set up carpools with parents at your kids' school or parents whose kids are involved in the same weekly activities as yours. 

2.     Try to Find Other Moms in Your Neighborhood

Try to find other moms in your neighborhood. If you have to drive 10 miles out of your way every fourth day for one far-flung kid, the carpool may not be worth it.

3.    Make Sure the Other Moms are Reliable and Safe Drivers

Make sure the other moms are somewhat reliable and are safe drivers. Want to know for sure? Ask your kids after the first week.

They'll tell you whether they drive like you or not. (You can interpret the results.) These are your babies we're talking about here. 

4.    Arrange a Schedule That's Going to Work for Your Family's Commitments

Establish how to change the schedule and how to notify other moms if your kid is out that day. If there are more than two of you, you'll probably want to arrange a phone tree for this as well as for emergencies.

5.    Establish That Unruly Children Will Be Dropped From the Carpool After Three Incidents

Establish that unruly children will be dropped from the carpool after three incidents. If you work this rule out ahead of time, it's easier to address when an incident occurs.

6.    Make It Clear That No One Else May Pick Up Your Child Without Your Permission

Do you really want your neighbor sending her constantly texting teenage daughter to pick up the kids one day while she's getting a manicure?

7.    Insist That All Drivers Have Mobile Phones, and Keep Them On

Insist that all drivers have mobile phones and that they keep them on.

Keep a carpool directory and schedule in the car for last-minute changes or questions.

8.    Make Your Carpool a No-Errands Zone

Insist that the other moms don't run errands with kids in the car. The kids need to get home. They've had a long day. Older kids may have other activities to rush off to. And parents will worry.

9.     Wait Until a Child Has Entered Her Front Door Before Driving Off

Wait until a child has entered her front door before driving off. Make sure the other parent drivers do, too.

10.   Make Sure the Other Parents Have Sufficient Insurance, Too

Make sure the other parents have a valid driver's license and sufficient insurance, too. Unsure? Ask. Arrange to swap or buy car seats for younger kids if necessary. 

Final Carpool Survival Tips 

A few more things you might want to consider making a part of your carpool agreement:

  • Establish how long you will wait for stragglers.
  • Consider signing a medical release consent form for your kids. In a severe accident, time is of the essence. Make sure your minor children can receive immediate medical aid if required.

Set carpool rules for the kids, too, such as:

  • Everyone wears a seat belt. The car cannot run unless seatbelts are fastened. (I had my daughter convinced this was true until she was about 7.)
  • No one under 12 rides in the front seat (if you have a passenger-side airbag).
  • No eating in the car without permission.
  • All body parts must be in the car at all times.
  • No loud voices or yelling inside the car.
  • Keep your hands to yourself - no touching anyone else.
  • Politeness is mandatory.

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› 10 Carpool Survival Tips