Long Distance Carpooling Safety Tips

After news broke that Greyhound Canada is permanently removing all BC routes (aside from Vancouver to Seattle) from its service, people from all over the British Columbia are scrambling to come up with solutions for their Western Canada travels when flights aren’t viable. While options from the private sector will soon rear their head, you can expect the concept of carpooling to extend far beyond the nine-to-five commute. For example, long distance carpooling services such Kangaride are already ramping up their efforts to attract those who now feel that they have been left stranded in the province they call home.

Whether you plan on coordinating schedules with friends, family and co-workers, or hitting online resources to find others interested in a ride share to/from a given destination, long distance carpooling may become a common word in your vocabulary. And while this can be an efficient solution to your newfound dilemma, it does not come without safety and lability concern, especially if you are the driver. In light of this end of an era, Park Insurance is here with some advice on how to reduce your risk.

7 Ways to Drive Safer When Long Distance Carpooling and Ride-Sharing

1. Personal Safety is Paramount

If you are planning to turn to online resources to plan your trip, remember that driving or being driven by strangers does pose some risks.  While many sites have some vetting processes, you still need to rely on your own common sense and instincts when planning a ride-share.  Review safety tips provided for drivers and tips for passengers before planning your trip.  You can also turn to trusted friends and family members for recommendations.

2. Don’t Get Distracted by Those in Your Car Pool

The very nature of carpooling increases your risk for distracted driving. A recent study from the U.S. Department of Transportation found that one of the top causes of distracted driving is engaging with passengers in conversation. Have a cordial but firm discussion with everyone joining you on the ride beforehand, letting them know that it’s best that they talk amongst themselves when it comes to more than small talk so that you can focus on the road. Be sure to afford them the same when they take their turn behind the wheel. Of course, there are many more ways to get distracted while driving, so take note of all common causes before carpooling.

3. Map Out the Route Together

When you carpool, you may get more backseat drivers than you bargained for. Most contention will come from directions along with where/when to pull off for meals and such along the way. Not only does this set the table for driving stress, it adds to your driving distracted concerns. Avoid potential for disagreement and dissension in the driver ranks by coordinating well in advance to map out your route. For example, if driving from Vancouver to the Okanagan, have a firm decision on whether you’ll be taking the Coquihalla or Allison Pass, and if you will be stopping to eat and gas up in Hope or Merritt, and so forth. A clear plan makes for a much more enjoyable and safer carpooling experience.

4. Set a Schedule and Account for Contingencies

Agree upon your schedule in advance. This is very important given that each person in the vehicle has a time they expect to be at the final destination, and may have people waiting for them, or other reasons to keep on schedule. Mapping out your route together will assist in this, but communication leading up to the day and time of departure is also key. It must be clearly stated that everyone take every reasonable step to be ready for departure, with clear directions to passenger pickup spots if they are not coming to you. If an event that can alter the schedule ahead of time is known in advance, it must be communicated early so that adjustments can be made (i.e. removing an unnecessary pit stop from the schedule, etc.). A schedule with room for contingencies will reduce both driver and passenger stress while reducing the potential for speeding and subsequent accidents.

5. Establish Etiquette

This is VERY important, especially if you’re offering your vehicle for the carpool. Avoid the potential for confrontation on the road (which can lead to distraction and stress) by communicating with one another about etiquette. This includes (but is not exclusive to) eating/drinking in the vehicle, smoking, climate control settings, music selection and volume, cell phone use, garbage disposal, bringing in pets, and personal hygiene.

6. Know the Driver History of Anyone Driving Your Car

As the owner of the vehicle being used in the carpool, you are liable (although ICBC is reconsidering this) and your insurance premiums may be impacted in the event of an accident. Therefore, the etiquette plan mentioned above must also extend to the operation of the vehicle. Let everyone know that if they plan on driving your vehicle, they must drive defensively. Share this article with everyone in your carpool, which identifies the characteristics of both good and bad drivers, making sure that all drivers adopt the former.

However, just because you put everyone on alert, doesn’t mean that their bad driving habits won’t kick back in. While you may know your friend, family member, or coworker (etc) well as a person, you may not know what they are like on the road. Ask about their driver history beforehand, avoiding awkwardness by stating that it’s a condition of your automobile insurance.  For example, do all drivers have at least 10 years of driving experience?  If not, you may want to check the conditions on your particular insurance policy to make sure you are in compliance.

7. Update Your Automobile Insurance

It’s not just you in a carpool scenario, so you may want to take a second look at your current automobile insurance policy. Otherwise you run the risk of being sued by those joining you on the road, in addition to all of the other liability concerns that can arise on long distance road trips. As the clock ticks on the removal of Greyhound services in BC, have an independent insurance broker review your policy to make sure you’re ready to adapt, whether it means you will be carpooling, ride-sharing, or simply driving over long distances solo more often than before. Contact Park Insurance today.