10 carpool survival tips

Carpools are very useful 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.

Make Sure You have Enough Liability Insurance

Before you firm up an 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 10 carpool survival tips to help ensure a successful arrangement. 

1.  Choose Carpools Carefully

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.  Look for Neighborhood Moms

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 Drivers are  Reliable and Safe

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.  Establish How to Make Schedule Changes

Arrange a schedule that's actually 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.  Rules for Unruly Children

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.  Other Drivers Must Be Cleared In Advance

Make it clear that no one else may pick up your child without permission.

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

7.  Drivers Must Be Accessible By Cell 

Insist that all drivers have cell phones and that they keep them on. Keep a carpool directory and schedule in the car for last-minute changes or questions.

8.  Make Carpools 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.  Ensure a Child Enters Home Safely

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

10.  Make Sure Other Parents Have Sufficient Insurance

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 to consider making a part of your carpool agreement:

  • 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.
  • Establish how long you will wait for stragglers.
  • Do not use a cell phone while driving a carpool. 

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.

You might like these:

  • The Family Car

    We spend much of our lives in the car as parents. These car organize tips will help ensure we're prepared for any bumps in the road ahead, while keeping things organized and sane (relatively) on the road.

  • 10 Tips for Road Trips

    10 tips for road trips to help ensure a swift departure and a (mostly) hassle-free trip family drive.

  • 5 Family Road Trip Games

    Road trip on your calendar? Be prepared to keep whining to a minimum and take fun to the max with these 5 cool, crazy-fun family road trip games.

  • Mastering Motion Sickness

    Motion sickness is no fun, no matter how old you are. Here are ways to help keep your kids’ tummy contents where they belong.

  • Tips for Family Road Trips

    Family road trips can be a challenge for restless kids and road-weary adults. These road trip ideas can help keep the little ones happily occupied on long drives.

  • Dashboard Dining: Yes or No?

    To eat or not to eat on the road? It's a tough family decision whether to say yes or no to dashboard dining. Here are a few things to consider before deciding.

  • 8 Carpool Rules for Kids

    Carpools are very useful arrangements for busy parents. Carpool rules are essential to keep things running smoothly.

  • Car Survival Kits for Life on the Road With Kids

    These car survival kits are designed to keep little ones happily occupied on short errands and long drives.

  • Car Seat Safety Tips

    If you're a parent who wants to do everything you can to ensure your child is safe while riding in a car, these critical car seat safety tips can help.

  1. Clean Home
  2. Car Cleaning and Organizing
  3. 10 Carpool Survival Tips


Have your say about what you just read!