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Sharing Excellence in Parking & Mobility Management

Carpooling: Rules of the Road, Part 7

If you’ve already read this introduction, swipe down to #7, below.

Mobility managers are often tasked to facilitate and manage carpools. Carpools are an integral of a TDM strategy to reduce traffic congestion and parking demand. There are many societal, organizational and personal benefits to carpools, which we will cover elsewhere.

This series will discuss different aspects of running a successful program that maximizes the participants’ satisfaction and minimizes the negatives sometimes associated with the experience. We will focus our attention on the carpool itself, from the time the carpool begins each day, to the time it ends.

Feel free to forward this post link or copy and paste our text into your circulars to your carpoolers (with attribution, please: “Courtesy of the H2H2H Foundation at www.h2h2h.org.”)

Rules of the Road

Carpool program members need to make some basic decisions about how the carpool will operate on a day-to-day basis. Agreement on these points is critical to long term success of each carpool and the satisfaction of the participants. Carpool members often bail out because these details – these “Rules of the Road” – haven’t been agreed-upon in advance. When enough members quit, the carpool collapses.

It’s better if mobility managers don’t mandate Rules of the Road for the entire program, but rather, present them as decision points for each pool. A program with numerous pools can have widely varying sets of self-imposed rules; it’s not a one-size-fits-all experience.

We do offer our “recommendations” as we proceed, however. Since carpooling is an “experience”, let’s break these up these considerations into the way we experience anything: through our perceptions and senses.

No Sensory Overloads

Here’s the scene: A carpool places several people in close proximity to each other, certainly an immediate violation of most people’s personal space. Carpool participants may not know each other well – or at all. All are locked in a small, containerized metal box (car) for up to two hours during the commute. Their freedom of movement is extremely limited. Each participant brings to the carpool their concerns for the day left behind at home and the workday ahead.

Since humans are societal animals, senses and perception are heightened under these conditions. Everyone is on edge, not necessarily in a disturbed or negative way, but in a manner that could become so. Since the senses are on high alert, far less stimulus is required to agitate an individual or the group. Finally, let’s remember that many of us are not at our best first thing in the morning or after a hard day of work.

Therefore, we’re not suggesting sensory deprivation here, but rather, sensory conservation. The point: Let’s not overstimulate everyone.

1. Time – covered in Part 1.

2. Temperature – covered in Part 2.

3. Balance – covered in Part 3.

4. Hearing – covered in Part 4.

5. Tasting – covered in Part 5.

6. Touching – covered in Part 6.

7. Seeing – Some ride share participants enjoy simply staring out the window as a way to segue into – or out of – a busy day. Others enjoy a short nap. Unless these riders are thrashing violently as they battle imaginary zombies or drooling uncontrollably, thoughtful Rule for the Road etiquette says to allow dreamers their peace and quiet, even if all the nappers are seeing are the inside of their eyelids.

Many carpoolers use the transit time to work or catch up on reading. Reading a magazine or viewing content on a smartphone, tablet or even a laptop will not be invasive to other riders. A full-sized newspaper may be another matter depending on the size of the vehicle and number of participants. No one likes newspaper pages flapping in their face.

Watching the road in front of the vehicle and mimicking – or worse, coaching – the driver’s reactions is unhelpful. It’s better if everyone does not try to help the driver drive, except in cases where it is obvious the driver is endangering the group in some way; e.g., a driver approaches a red light at a speed that would make it difficult to properly stop in time. Some carpools designate a front seat passenger to act as a co-pilot to help and advise the driver regarding any hazards or problems.

Now, what did we miss? Please let us know in your comments below.

Hop these links to navigate our Carpooling “Rules of the Road” series:

Part 1 – Time

Part 2 – Temperature

Part 3 – Balance

Part 4 – Hearing

Part 5 – Tasting

Part 6 – Touching

Part 7 – Seeing

Part 8 – Smelling

Part 9 – Satisfaction

(Want more information? Please check out our forums. If you have comments or suggestions, please share your experiences and ideas with us and other professionals visiting our site. Add your comments below – if Comments are “on” – or by contacting us directly here. Our How-2 series are written by mobility management professionals for mobility management professionals. Thank you for helping H2 become the how-to resource in public and private transportation management.)

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