Last Updated: Sept. 19, 2013
Back to school means a higher level of school and sports-related car pool activity. It's how we get it all done for our children and for our own busy schedules. Organizing transportation means everyone can make it safely and on time to school activities, team practices, away games and weekend tournaments, including our star athletes and family fans.
Make sure to check out the other drivers in your car pool. It's not enough that that those parents are connected with you through your child's classroom, school activity group or athletic team. Sometimes other family members and family friends are enlisted last-minute to help out with the car pool without your knowledge. You may want to ask the basic questions to determine that they are qualified to drive the car, are not only a safe driver but can supervise up to four or five young people under their supervision should any emergency arise on the way to school or on the way home. This is especially true of high school drivers that ferry younger siblings around town on behalf of the parents.
Protect yourself by making sure each child has their own safety belt to secure them, that no one is riding in the front seat unless the airbag has been disabled. Don't start the car until everyone is buckled in for the trip. It's not just about asking the question and receiving a verbal reply. Make a visual inspection if you suspect someone is not buckled or understands the importance of riding safely. Once your guest riders realize you are extra diligent about buckling in and car safety, they will more than likely comply from then on to not draw attention to themselves in front of their friends.
Once you arrive at each stop, make sure that all children riding with you exit the car on the curb side. Checking approaching traffic from a fixed driver seat perspective does not provide enough information to allow a child to open the car door behind you. Make sure everyone riding with you has their backpacks, duffels and school bags with them, so you won't have to backtrack later.
Once everyone is outside the car, you will want to wait until they have begun walking to their destination before you drive away. Never leave a group of children alone in the car, even for one or two minutes. Establish a level of trust, so that your child's friends will communicate with you about their plans and any issues that may arise while they are under your supervision. Teach your child to manage themselves in the same way when riding with other families.
At away games, off-site school activities and weekend tournaments, it's very important to over-communicate and confirm details at least twice. If your child is going to ride back home with another child's family and not return on the team or activity bus, make sure to communicate that clearly with coaches and teachers who are supervising the activities. There may be school policies against this, and you don't want to go against this and risk your child's future participation. If you are the one driving a group back from the game or activity, confirm with the other parents directly in person or by phone, agree on probable departure and arrival times, and communicate to coaches and teachers in advance.