Carpooling can be a great way to save money on long commutes and even on short ones. It is clearly more economically sound, especially with rising gas costs. It also minimizes environmental impact.
Successful carpooling works when all carpoolers agree to a set of rules. This can help reduce frustration, streamline reimbursement for gas or vehicle expenses, and set up emergency procedures if a driver is not present for a day or two, as due to illness or emergency.
People who plan to practice carpooling together should have a meeting and establish several rules prior to all driving to work. First, the group should determine which cars will be used. Some people use a service like vanpool, where they rent a van together. Others use their personal vehicles.
If one person provides the vehicle, it is important to establish reimbursement for wear and tear on the car. Obviously that person will be racking up more mileage on their car than others, so a reasonable fee for providing the car should be considered.
If several people plan to each drive their own car on their driver days, this fee may be omitted. As well, some people like to carpool but hate driving. People who will not be designated drivers might pay a small additional fee for having others drive. This amount should be determined before carpooling begins.
One should also take the opportunity during the carpooling meeting to decide how and when each person will be reimbursed for gas expenses or things like bridge toll. Setting specific dates for reimbursement can help avoid problems later. As well, agreeing on the consequences of not paying should be made. Prospective carpoolers should also agree on whether a person who doesn’t use the carpool for a few days should still pay.
People have different driving habits. Some like to turn up the music or smoke nonstop while driving a car. All should agree on a few courtesy rules. Decide whether carpooling groups may eat in the car, smoke, use cellphones or listen to music. Since musical tastes differ, those carpooling might establish a headphones only rule, for example.
Conversation tastes can differ as well. Some people like to chat a lot during commutes, while others might want to catch a bit more sleep. Establishing rules about conversation can help avoid future hassles.
Driving safety should also be discussed prior to carpooling. Some people seem to disregard issues like speeding. Others feel concerned when someone does not observe the rules of the road. The carpooling team should define what they consider safe driving practices to avoid problems in the future.
Decisions should also be made regarding contact if a driver cannot make it, or if an individual plans not to carpool on a certain day. One way to solve the driver problem is to appoint a backup for each driver. This way, if a person is ill, he or she can call the back-up driver.
Keeping a schedule can also allow someone who doesn’t wish to be in the carpool for a day to call the appropriate driver. Both home and work numbers should be exchanged to keep the carpooling running smoothly if someone cannot make it in the morning or has to stay late at work.
Establishing a few carpooling rules can help keep a carpool successful. Most who make rules prior to carpooling find they appreciate saving money, and come to enjoy the people with whom they carpool.