Six Sanity-Saving Tips for Carpooling

Tammy La

Whatever roads you travel during your family adventures, they will all lead back to school — eventually. However, being in the driver's seat for carpools before and after school (or work) doesn't have to be a headache.
Driving the carpool lane.
In addition to making sure your car is in good running condition, there are plenty of great apps and resources to make sure you're carpool savvy. Don't forget: You're traveling with precious cargo.
  1. Gas Guru: You're not getting far without fuel, and a handy way to find not only the closest, but the cheapest, gas station is already in the palm of your hand. It's nice to know that you're getting the best deal and it's just a little easier to use than Google Maps. Carpooling is about efficiency, after all. With the Gas Guru app (available on Apple and Android) you'll be able to quickly find the optimal gas station and be gassed and gone with a little more green.
  2. The DMV: Each state has its own laws for child safety seats. It's best to know what they are in your state because being in compliance is a bare-minimum kind of thing for safety. At the DMV, you can also learn about curb color rules, parking rules, and other tips. For example, in Los Angeles, yellow zones are free to park at after 6 p.m. You can also park in these during the day, but only for five minutes to load or unload passengers. Most importantly, if your kid is in a carpool, it's nice to have the right information to help out. Safety first!
  3. Spotify or XM Radio: Create playlists to help ease your mind while riding. No fiddling with stations, no editing, and let's face it - there are not a lot of kid-oriented stations out there. With Spotify or XM, you can load up exactly what you or the kids want to listen to and then press "play." You could even have the kids participate in creating a list, something to look forward to on the next ride. You have plenty of other things to think about, so let's make music easy and maximize our chances for mellow car rides. If you're lucky, by the time the new school year arrives they'll have finally "let it go, let it go, let it gooooo" before it's your turn to drive.
  4. Insurance: Hindsight is 20/20. Check with your insurance company to make sure you have enough coverage for both your kids and the other kids — and no coverage gaps. Additionally, consider having all the parents in your pool sign medical release forms for that hopefully-it-never-happens situation where medical attention is required immediately. You don't need to be wasting time doing paperwork.
  5. Evernote: Modern collaboration. A single, shared document accessible through everyone's smartphones. With Evernote, everyone can share and have access to the same information: phone numbers, addresses, allergies, everything. Take several steps out of the search process and move to a collaborative online platform. This could extend to creating Google Maps lists of kids' addresses for carpool parents. This is the carpool of the future.
  6. Carpool/HOV lanes: Carpool lanes (HOV) are great for getting places quickly with two or more people in the car. In Northern California, for example, they're in effect from 6-10 a.m. and from 3-7 p.m. In Southern California, they're 24 hours. Also, look into FasTrak or EZ Pay programs near you. You get your own special lane and you'll fly by traffic. Just remember, no matter where you are you can only exit and enter the HOV lanes when the line is dotted. Be sure to check your local highway laws to see what is legal in your state.