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uOttawa Carpool Banner

Tips for a successful carpool


General Tips

Successful carpooling requires ground rules to be set and agreed upon by all carpool members. Some tips to smooth the way are provided below.

  1. Decide who will drive on which days. Some carpools rotate driving responsibilities, while others have a dedicated driver. If there are members who wish to alternate driving, decide if you want to alternate on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
  2. Determine your route and schedule. Establish the morning pick-up point(s). Try to choose a mutually convenient meeting place. Either pick up each carpooler at home, or meet in a central location like a carpool lot. Designate a place or places to meet for the trip home. Stick to your schedule. Make sure everyone knows the schedule and is notified of changes.
  3. Decide on a method for reimbursing driving expenses. If all members do not share the driving equally, agree how the costs will be shared and agree on payment dates.
  4. Decide how long the driver will wait for a passenger (usually no more than 2 or 3 minutes).
  5. Establish clear in-car policies. Discuss smoking, music taste and volume, food and drinks.
  6. Make it clear that the carpool is for a single purpose - commuting to and from work. Do not let it become a shopping or errand service unless all members agree.
  7. Establish a chain of communication. Identify one person as the carpool leader.
  8. If a driver or passenger is ill, the car won't start or other issues arise, there should be an easy and clear arrangement for making adjustments. Make sure everyone has a list with each carpooler's home and work phone numbers, and establish who is to be called when.
  9. Drive responsibly, wear seat belts and keep the vehicle in good repair. When there are passengers involved, there is no excuse for excessive speed, use of alcohol, or reckless manoeuvres.
  10. Check your insurance policy and make sure all members are aware of it.
  11. And finally, give the carpool a few weeks to get going - it usually takes a while to work out any "bugs" and to create a truly great carpool. If, despite your best efforts, it isn't working - try again with another carpool.

New Carpool Checklist

Make sure to go through these points with your carpool partners to ensure that you all have the same expectations for your carpool team.

  1. Get acquainted

    Before making any commitments with a new carpool partner, set up a quick face to face meeting to get acquainted and to discuss your expectations. You will be able to determine if you are a good carpool match and discuss your carpooling arrangements.

  2. Payment

    Beforehand, agree on the amount to be paid in reimbursements. What exactly does the payment cover (gas, parking, insurance, etc)? If you are in a group, does every member pay the same amount or does the payment reflect the commuting distance? Determine the payment dates and what methods of payment are to be used: cash, cheques, etc.

  3. Routes and schedules

    Determine your route and schedule in advance. Establish the pick up and drop off points. Try to choose a mutually convenient meeting place, pick up each carpooler at home or meet in a central location like a carpool lot. Designate a place or places to meet for the trip home and stick to your schedule. Make sure everyone knows the schedule and is notified of any changes.

  4. Be punctual

    Nobody likes to wait, so make an effort to be punctual. As a group, decide what a reasonable waiting time is. And please! If your carpool partner is late, don’t disturb the entire neighborhood by honking.

  5. Set ground rules

    Will there be smoking allowed? What radio channel or type of music is acceptable? Is drinking or eating allowed? Is anyone allergic or sensitive to perfumes? You may decide to avoid talking about controversial issues by agreeing beforehand on what is permissible or not. Also keep in mind some people may enjoy quiet time to read, work or unwind.

  6. Driving duties

    Decide who will drive on which days. Some carpools rotate driving responsibilities, while others have a dedicated driver. If there are members who wish to alternate driving, decide if you want to switch on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

  7. Drive safely

    Always drive carefully and respect speed limits. Make sure everyone buckles up! If you are not the driver, avoid “backseat driving”. Also, keep the vehicle clean and in good running condition.

  8. Chain of communication

    If a driver is ill or cannot carpool on a particular day, notify your group as soon as possible so other arrangements can be made. Establish a line of communication on who replaces the driver if he/she cannot drive; ensure everyone has their contact numbers in case of emergencies and make sure that contacts are updated.

  9. Stick to carpooling

    Unless all members agree, avoid side tracking and stopping for errands. Keep the trip as short as possible and for carpooling purposes only.

  10. Insurance

    Make sure your insurance provider covers you in case of an accident. Some insurance companies already include carpooling in their coverage, but some policies may not. Get acquainted with your policy to ensure that you are properly covered.

  11. Give ample notice

    If you are going to leave your carpool arrangement or will be on leave for an extended period of time, give ample notice so a replacement can be found. This way there’s no sudden increase in cost for those who remain in the carpool.

  12. Give it some time!

    Starting a successful carpool may take some time and a bit of tweaking. Some old habits are hard to break, so be patient. It may take a month or so before you can see how easy carpooling is and how much you truly are saving. Most people never realize how easy it is until they give it a try. So, give it some time!