School is officially back in session, which means hectic schedules and extra-curricular activities are, too! For many families, dealing with the logistics of active children means sharing transportation duties in a carpool. By following these LOF-Xpress™ approved carpooling tips you can share some of the back-to-school driving and create a clear actionable plan that leaves you comfortable and your child safe.
- Maintain Your Car – Start the school year with a reliable well maintained car. This means regular oil & filter changes, maintaining other vital fluids, checking your tires, inspecting headlamps and directional lights, and testing the battery. If this sounds overwhelming, the good news for you is that we’re here to help! It’s what we do! The last thing you want to have happen when transporting kiddos is have a vehicle break down.
- Have a Plan – Get your all carpooling participants together so you can plan out the important stuff, like route, schedule, and rules for both kids and parents (Tip: Rule #1 should be: Be on time!). Create a group email or group text for easy communication and have a contact list in case of changes in plans, sick kids, or emergencies.
- Buckle Up and Make Sure Students do, too! –September is National Child Passenger Safety Month AND a good reminder to make sure all riders are restrained properly. School-aged children who are shorter than 4 feet 9 inches must ride in booster seats, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Only kids 13 years old and older may ride in the front passenger seat — everyone else must ride in the backseat.
- Drop-Off and Pick-Up – We recommend reminding passengers who will be picking them up in the afternoon/at the end of an activity, especially when that responsibility changes from day-to-day. As far as drop-off and pick-up safety goes, it is always a good idea to make sure students are exiting and entering the car from the curbside. Reinforce that kids should always use school crosswalks and sidewalks AND that they need to always remain aware of their surroundings. According to the Safe Routes to Schools organization, of the leading types of youth pedestrian crashes, 33% are due to ‘dart-outs’ entering traffic mid-block, often between parked cars.
- Insurance and driver safety – as long as you’re not operating like a Uber and making a living off of shuttling kids around, you do not need to upgrade to commercial insurance. However, you may want to check your insurance limits. You’ll have a few extra passengers in your car and if something happens, you want to make sure you’re fully covered. Finally, be sure to keep driver distractions to a minimum; the best school/activity carpool lanes run efficiently and effectively, but others can be chaotic at best. Don’t tune the radio or glance at your cellphone while navigating the carpool lane.
Being part of a carpool is a big commitment, but helpful and rewarding, as well. You’ll save time and money on car maintenance, AND you’ll hopefully save yourself a little sanity, not having to be everywhere, every day, all at once! Back-to-school car care is as simple as stopping by one of our two LOF-Xpress™ locations. Our technicians are certified in all areas of automotive repair and will keep your vehicle running the way it should, so when it’s your turn to carpool, your vehicle’s maintenance will be one less thing to worry about.