Did the start of this school year put “figure out carpooling” on your to-do list? Carpooling to school is common, but gives many parents a bout of anxiety.
Who will be driving my child? Are they a safe driver? Do these thoughts sound familiar? Whether you’re picking up or dropping off a carpool of kids to school, it’s certainly not a task to take lightly. Carpooling is a responsibility for everyone involved. As a driver-parent, you’re responsible for rounding up each child and making sure they’re safety taken home, or to school. As a non-driver-parent, you’re responsible for confirming the driver’s record and any special seating requirements. For all parents, you are responsible for updating a roster and having a safety discussion with your child and the other parents.
Carpooling doesn’t have to be the crazy event like school pick-ups can be. With these tips, you can help settle your mind this school year.
Know the driver:
- Do all drivers have a current license and registration?
- Does the driver have a commitment to safety or a history of speeding tickets?
- Will it consistently be the same person? Or will the mother and father be switching off? Or will another parent have their teenage daughter drive your kids to school one day? Know the person.
Keep a shared roster / emergency contact list in Google docs. It might help to keep a schedule in the cloud, so anyone can see it at any time and stay updated. Don’t let a scheduling problem cause a panic.
Safety is number one: This info may be pretty obvious, but believe it or not, “of children reported to use seat belts, 74% did so in accordance with their state law.” That percent ought to be 100.
- Every child must wear his or her seatbelt; and depending on their age, weight and height, some will need a car or booster seat.
- If you’re the parent of a child who needs a booster seat, make an arrangement with the carpool to supply, or make sure there will be, a booster seat for your child in every vehicle.
- As a driver, don’t get into a habit of asking elementary-aged children if their seatbelts are buckled. It’s your responsibility to confirm they are.
- Make sure all the children get out of the car on the curb side of the street, and that you confirm they’re supervised before driving away.
- Do NOT talk or text on your cellphone.
Discuss safety with your kids and the carpool:
- Have a discussion about what is expected behavior and what the rules for safety are. That way, everyone is on the same page.
- Ensure that your child knows where to be picked up at after school.
- The protocol if an unknown driver attempts to pick your child up.