Maybe you do it for the cost savings, for the company or because you're environmentally aware- whatever your reasons, carpooling is a great way to get around town. Not only does it eliminate CO2 emissions and keep money in your wallet but it can even help you ride in a multi-passenger lane, which can help shorten your daily commute.
Like any group situation, carpooling requires a certain level of courtesy by all to keep everyone happy. Whether you're a passenger or responsible for driving your troop, a little effort can help you maintain good carpool etiquette.
8 ETIQUETTE TIPS FOR CARPOOLING
1. Common Scents- With the many readily available body lotions, perfume, cologne or worse-body odor, your carpool trip could turn into a toxic mess if too much of any of these are present. Be mindful of the other passengers by keeping it to a minimum. You may want to toss perfume in your purse and spritz once you get out of the car.
2. Reimbursement Fees- Be sure to set reimbursement fees as the driver. Be sure to stick to what you all agreed upon to be fair so there aren't any surprises. Passengers: There is no free ride in life, unless it is a one time deal and the person driving insists it's okay to ride with them, you should be prepared to contribute monetarily in order to compensate the driver for gas and a bit of wear and tear on the car.
3. Set Riding Guidelines-If you are a driver who doesn't prefer drinks or food in the car you'll need to convey that to the passengers, likewise you should also address smoking preferences and radio selections. As passengers you need to make sure you respect the driver's decisions in these areas and be sure to always wear your seatbelt out of courtesy, even if you don't normally wear one in your own vehicle.
4. Be On Time-This goes for both drivers and passengers, don't be late. Regardless of where you are driving it is important to always be on time. A single ten minute delay could throw off the whole traffic plan for the group, especially if you were trying to avoid rush hour traffic, etc. Also, if you cannot make it on a particular day, be sure to let the driver know well in advance so they don't spend time driving to pick you up. Drivers, be sure to communicate with carpool passengers in advance should you become ill so they can each make other arrangements.
5. No Cell Phone Zone-In a car filled with other passengers is not the right time or place to make personal or business phone calls. Vehicles are already cramped as it is and I can assure you that nobody will enjoy listening to you update your spouse on the kids or what plans you have for the weekend. If it's an emergency, keep it brief and to the point.
6. Be Respectful of Others' Property- When riding in another person's vehicle it's important to be very careful when opening doors in a parking lot or against a curb. You wouldn't want to damage their car. With the interior, regardless of how clean the vehicle is, be sure to always wear clean shoes free of mud or other debris. Nobody will appreciate extra cleaning duties that were completely unnecessary.
7. Safety First-I think it goes without saying that as the driver your vehicle needs to be properly maintained. If your brakes are ready to go any day, that is not a safe scenario for your passengers. Drive at an acceptable speed and follow the 'Manners and Etiquette for Driving'. Use common sense and remember that safety comes first.
8. Keep a Clean Car-If you've been reading my posts, you might remember a post I wrote on 'How to Keep a Clean Car'. This is so important with carpooling. Nobody wants to sit on a banana peel or crumpled receipts. Your car need not be immaculate, but it does need to be presentable. It should be free of anything large that would take up space. Passengers can keep briefcases, backpacks, etc., in the trunk. It's also a good place to house an umbrella, sunshade or extra pairs of shoes.
Sometimes carpooling isn't as set in stone such as a daily commute to the office together, or to College as I used to do with a girlfriend in my Marketing program many years ago (who is now one of my best friends). You might often agree to pick up a friend en route to a party, brunch or to enjoy a day at the mall. It's a great way to catch up in the car and save a little fuel too.
However, if there are times when you begin to feel as though you're doing all of or most of the driving without any form of compensation or even so much as an offer, or thank you, you should definitely speak up. In this situation it is completely appropriate to ask the other person/people involved to take their turn by driving. If they don't have access to a car, don't have a license or don't enjoy driving, they should be willing to give you a few dollars here and there at the very least. This is especially important for a long trip or road trip of sorts and should be discussed in advance.
Do you carpool? Are you typically the driver, passenger or do you take turns? What have been your experiences and what got you carpooling in the first place? I'd love to hear what you have to say! :)