Back to School Safety Tips: Carpooling
Back to school can be a stressful time for parents and children. It’s a time when many families shop for new clothes and gear, pick classes, sign up for sports, and get ready for their slower summer schedule to transition into a busier school routine.
Many families choose to carpool with others, either to and from school or for after school sports and other activities. These carpool arrangements can save parents a lot of time and allow children to spend more time with friends. However, there are a few things parents should consider before arranging a carpool for their children. Here are a few tips:
1. Seat Belts and Car Seats:
Start the discussion of carpool safety by asking the other family if you can inspect their seat belts and car seats and offer to show them yours. Tell them it is very important to you that your child is always safely strapped into a seat belt (and it is also the law). While many of us simply expect other families to abide by these rules, it’s better not to assume they will. Have the conversation and make your expectations clear.
2. Driver’s License and Insurance:
It might feel awkward to ask someone else if you can see their driver’s license and insurance card, but you can start the conversation by offering up yours first. Tell them you simply want to ensure the safety of your child and let them know you take their children’s safety very seriously as well.
3. Pick Up and Drop Off Locations:
It’s important that drivers know exactly where to pick up and drop off your children, and at what time. If there is any confusion, your child might be stuck standing and waiting on her own while you have to track down the carpool driver.
4. Authorized Caretakers:
If you have a nanny or someone else who will meet your child at the carpool drop off, let the driver know. You don’t want your child released to a stranger or someone not approved to meet them at the carpool drop off. Your carpool friends should know exactly who is authorized to meet your children.
5. Head Count:
With recent news of many children left forgotten in cars, it’s worth having a discussion with other carpool parents about how you can all work together to do a head count at the beginning and end of each ride and inspect the car to make sure no children are forgotten inside. This is especially important for younger children who can’t unbuckle themselves and can’t escape from a parked, hot car.
6. Emergency Actions:
Talk to your children about what to do if there is an emergency. Ask questions like:
- Do you know what to do if you are in a car accident?
Make sure your child knows how to call 911 or wave down passing motorists for help if he or she doesn’t have a phone available.
- Who should you call if the carpool is late to pick you up?
Your child should know who to call and have access to a phone for emergency use.
- What should you do if someone you don’t know is waiting at the carpool drop off?
Your child should know to tell the carpool driver that he or she doesn’t know who the person is and inform them that he or she wants to wait in the car until the authorized pick up person arrives.
- Do you remember my contact information?
Children should know how to get a hold of parents or other caretakers, including having their numbers memorized.
- Do you know our address?
It’s important that children know their addresses by heart in case a carpool driver gets lost, but also instruct them that they should never give their address to strangers.
Completing these few simple steps and having the important conversations with other families in the carpool could help prevent accidents that endanger your children.
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