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Congratulations if you’ve decided to cut costs and reduce your carbon footprint by carpooling to work on a regular basis. With prices at the pump on the rise, you’ll reach into your wallet a lot less for gas and put fewer miles on your vehicle if you can economize by driving to the same destination with a group of others. Even sharing a ride with one co-worker reduces costs by 50%!

Carpooling is a lot more common in urban areas, but it’s also a great option as long as it makes sense with colleagues or neighbors who share similar schedules.

Before you get started, here are a few suggestions on how to get your carpool on the right track so your drive to and from is more enjoyable.

  1. Be courteous. Are you telling yourself, “Of course, I know to be courteous. Next.” Before you move on, consider that courtesy in a carpool means being mindful of several things you might not typically consider when you’re driving solo. Your fellow riders will appreciate a clean car. Toss out the fast-food wrappers and reduce clutter. Be prompt if you’re the driver and ready if you’re a rider. Don’t stop to pick up dinner or run errands on the way home. At the end of the day, everyone wants to get home quickly. And it goes without saying, no need to honk when you arrive. A text is a lot quieter.
  2. Plan everything out with your group of riders before you get started. Maybe everyone gets along well outside of the car, but once you’re cramped together stuck behind an 18-wheeler gone awry, the best of us can get frayed nerves. Discuss all the specifics in advance. What’s the policy on food and drink? Not everyone will appreciate your hopping into the car with an everything bagel. Does anyone smoke? Address that if so. Like to wake yourself up by blaring rap? Even the most devout Drake fan might not be up for that at 7 a.m. Limiting cell phone conversations is always a good idea; nobody wants to be a third party to your morning call with Aunt Agnes. Make sure everyone is comfortable with the heat and AC settings, too. Do you need to rotate who sits in the front and back? And yes, it’s fair game to discuss vaccination status. For the ride to work, everybody has to be on the same page.
  3. Have a Plan B. Emergencies happen. So does waking up too sick to go to work. If something prevents you from driving on a designated day, inform everyone asap. Everyone in the carpool needs to be aware of the backup plan. If something delays you along the way — an accident or construction, for example — text updates can keep all informed.
  4. Follow the rules. Most of us think we’re good drivers. But if you’re a speeder who tends to weave in and out of lanes and ride on someone’s tail, maybe you’re not the ideal driver for a carpool. By all means, don’t text and drive. It’s not OK, and no passenger is comfortable with it. Virginia is a hands-free zone, so remember that when the phone rings and you’re behind the wheel.
  5. Remember the et ceteras. Consider allergies. If a passenger is allergic to a dog and your Lab sacks out in your back seat after his Sunday swims in the York River, that’s a point worth discussing. Perfume or cologne can really come across as strong in a car. Also, assess your carpool plan regularly and keep communication lines open to make sure everybody in the front and back seat is in sync.
The Middle Peninsula Rideshare Commuter Services – MidPenRideShare – are provided by the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission’s Transportation Demand Management Program in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. This program exists to assist persons who are seeking transportation alternatives to commuting within and from the Middle Peninsula area.