With gas prices soaring, it makes good economic sense to carpool. Mastering the basic etiquette of ride sharing will help you coordinate all the logistics and share a pleasant ride to work.
Benefits of Carpooling:
1. Save money. Spending less at the gas tank is an obvious plus. If you alternate vehicles, you may also extend the life of your car. Check with your car insurance company to ensure your general liability insurance will cover your passengers and see if you qualify for a carpooling discount.
2. Reduce stress. Many studies show that long commutes can have a negative impact on your quality of life. With carpooling, you can enjoy a break from driving and embrace the opportunity to read or chat instead.
3. Shrink your environmental footprint. Driving solo is also hard on the environment. It’s gratifying to know that by choosing to share a ride, you’re contributing to better air quality and land conservation.
Coordinating the Logistics:
1. Get to know each other. If you start carpooling with neighbors and co-workers, you may already have a sense of how compatible you are. If you’re connecting with people you just met online, it’s usually good to arrange an in-person meeting before you start driving together so you can feel more comfortable and clarify any ground rules.
2. Take a trial run. Some newcomers opt to test carpooling out for a month or so before making a final decision. You could also experiment with using it a couple of days a week before going full time. Either way, a temporary arrangement may help to reduce any hard feelings if you need to drop out.
3. Divide the expenses. You can rotate the driving or ask passengers to contribute to the costs. Factor in everything from gas to parking and tolls. AAA has convenient online forms for making a personalized budget based on the distance you travel and even the kind of car you drive.
4. Work with each other’s schedules. Be flexible in finding an arrangement that suits your group. Depending on where you live, you can meet at the nearest train station or make door-to-door pick-ups. Circulate everyone’s contact information so you can give advance notice for any delays or absences. Decide how long you’ll wait for latecomers.
Sharing the Ride:
1. Decide on eating and drinking rules. The car owner has the most at stake so it’s good for them to let the group know how they feel about food and beverage consumption. Spill-proof commuter cups may make morning coffee a breeze. Messy foods are probably better off staying at home.
2. Compromise on the radio station. Find a happy medium everyone can tolerate. Maybe you all enjoy the same programming or can live with an alternating schedule.
3. Keep the conversation friendly. Unless you all love vigorous political debates early in the morning, stick to safe subjects. Pay attention to whether your fellow passengers welcome your remarks or want to read their books.
4. Limit your cell phone time. Keep your cell phone conversations brief and quiet. If everyone exercises restraint, conflicts are less likely to arise.
5. Go easy on the fragrance. When several people pack together in a small space, your perfume will have more impact. You can always apply more when you reach your destination.
6. Put safety first. If you’re the driver, keep your car in good working order and be open to any concerns about safety conditions. If you’re a passenger, buckle up and avoid distracting the driver.
Carpooling is good for your budget and the environment. Simple courtesies can help smooth over any schedule and personality conflicts so you’ll get to work with less stress on you and the planet.