Finding the Right People for a School Carpool

A picture of a family in a car
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Do you want to lighten your burden of driving children to school and activities daily? Joining a carpool can be a great way to reduce the amount of time you spend driving while sharing the costs of fuel with others. There are also other advantages, like decreasing traffic in school parking lots and providing extra social time for children.

If you are thinking about joining a carpool, you should first clearly define for yourself what it is your family needs—and can give—in a carpool. 

If that sounds like relationship advice, it is because successful carpooling is really about relationships. Once you know what you are looking for in a carpool, you need to know where you can find the right carpool matches for your family.

1) Find Out If You Have Compatible Carpooling Schedules

You may just assume that another parent with children going to the same school as you will have the same drop-off and pick-up schedule for your family. It may be that the other family has to make stops for older or younger children in different schools, or their children may be in different before and after school activities than yours. Don't assume, be sure to discuss this. 

If there are days you won't be able to drive, check to make sure the other family will be available on those days.

2) Check to Make Sure They Are a Safe Driver

You need to decide how you will determine if the person who will be driving your children to the carpool is a safe driver. This will be easy if you decide to carpool with a long time friend who you already know deeply. Consider how you would decide if someone is a safe driver before you start looking for other people to carpool with. 

Since each state handles driving records and access to other people's traffic and minor offense history differently, you will want to find out how people in your area can look at someone else's driving history.

Ask for the same information you would be willing to provide to the other family's driver. 

In some states, drivers can get a copy of their driving history for a small fee from their local DMV office. Other states have public access databases where people can search for records - whether their own or someone else's. A driver may also be able to get a history of any insurance claims, accidents or tickets from their auto insurance company.

3) Check That They Are Driving an Insured Vehicle

Does the other driver have the legally required driver's insurance for your area? Is there coverage that would pay your child's medical bills in the event they were a passenger in an accident? 

The first question can be easy to answer, either a driver has the legally mandated insurance, or not. 

The second question is a little more complicated, in part because states define and require passenger injury coverage in different ways. If the driver specifically has personal injury protection, then their coverage will help cover costs of medical bills resulting from an auto accident for vehicle passengers. Other policies or state guidelines may cover accident-related passenger injuries under basic liability or underinsured motorist policies. 

Your family's own medical coverage will likely cover medical bills from an accident-related injury. While the likelihood of your child being in an accident is extremely small, it is best to think ahead just in case.

Knowing and understanding how your child's medical bills would be covered in the unlikely event of an accident will keep you from facing any additional surprises. 

4) Can Your Family Get Along With the Other Family?

You need to be able to clearly discuss scheduling and carpooling rules with the other carpool families. Be sure that you feel comfortable talking with other potential drivers. Also, keep in mind that your children will be riding with the other family's children. 

You don't need to look for similar parenting styles - like "crunchy parents" or "silky parents." What matters is that you are able to communicate with one another. Do they reply promptly after you call or text message them with a question? Are they punctual in their responses? 

Remember, you will be depending on them to get your child or children to school or activities. How someone acts when you first start creating a carpool is a strong indicator of what they will be like once the carpool is established.

Places to Find Parents to Carpool to School

Once you know what kind of drivers you are looking for, you need to know where to look to find them. If you don't have a good friend who has a perfect schedule for you to carpool with, there are several places you can look:

  • PTA/PTO - Some school parent-teacher organizations will provide a newsletter or maintain a list of parents willing to carpool. Ask your school's PTA/PTO if they have such a list. If they do not, they may be inspired to organize a list once you ask.
  • School Office - Sometimes the school itself will maintain a list of parents interested in carpooling. This is most common in schools of choice, such as private or charter schools, because they may not be required to provide busing transportation for children to get to school. 
  • Coordinators of Extracurricular Programs - Often the activities your child has before or after school is the biggest factor in finding a carpool schedule match up. Ask the person who coordinates the activity if they know of anyone else looking to carpool. 
  • Online Carpool Sites - There are a variety of online resources for carpooling today. Some schools will participate in an online carpool matching site, such as Parents can go to the online resource that their school participates in to find other families to carpool with. You can also try regular carpool matching sites, such as Carpoolworld or eRideShare.

A Word From Verywell

Taking the time to find a good carpool match is probably the most challenging part of having a good carpool system. Taking this extra time to think about what your family needs and which families can make good carpool partners are the important steps to ensuring your carpooling experience is a successful, beneficial one.

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