Keep Your School Carpool Safe: Know the Risks, Review Your Insurance
During the school year, many South Carolina parents drive to and from school. Parents may give rides not only to their own children but also to the children of neighbors, family members, or friends.
School carpooling reduces the number of vehicles on the road, making roads safer. It also allows parents to share the work required to give rides to their students, and it’s easier on the environment. Yet school carpools can also pose risks. Here’s how to think about carpool safety and how to talk to other parents about it.
Safety Tips for Drivers Who Give Rides to School
If you drive a carpool of students to school, here are some tips to make the experience safer for you and your passengers.
Make sure everyone is wearing their seat belt. Seat belts play an important role in preventing or reducing injuries in a car accident. Anytime you have passengers in your car, insist they buckle up before you drive 一 and set an example by wearing your own seat belt every time.
Watch carefully for people, pets, and objects around your car. Many carpool drivers pick up their passengers at home. Children heading to school may run out in front of your vehicle. As they open the door, these children may also accidentally release a pet or a younger sibling. The family may have objects in the driveway as well. At school, many other children and vehicles create a constantly changing situation where the risk of a collision may be high. Give the pick-up and drop-off process your full attention to help prevent accidents.
Avoid speeding, even if you’re late. Speeding is a top cause of car crashes in South Carolina. Even if your carpool is running late, maintain a safe speed for conditions, especially in inclement weather. It’s better for your passengers to be a minute or two late for school than to be in a crash.
Review Your Insurance for Safer Carpooling
South Carolina requires all drivers to carry certain minimum insurance coverage limits. These minimums are intended to provide some measure of protection against the costs of injuries and property damage in a car accident.
When you provide rides for other people’s children, it’s important to make sure you understand the liability you may face in the event of an accident. If you are found to be at fault for a crash, the families of any passengers injured in your vehicle may sue you for compensation for their child’s injuries. For this reason, it’s important to carry more than the minimum amount of liability coverage in case of an accident.
When checking your insurance limits for liability, make sure you understand the difference between per-person and per-accident coverage. For instance, your policy may offer $100,000 in coverage per person but only a total of $200,000 in coverage per accident. If you have three passengers who all need more than $100,000 in coverage for injuries after a single crash, you may be personally responsible for paying the difference.
Discussing Safety and Coverage With Other Parents
Just as it’s important to ensure you have the right coverage for carpooling, it’s also important to help other parents understand why they need sufficient insurance coverage. Although it can feel awkward to start an insurance conversation with other parents, there are ways to raise the topic tactfully. For example:
- Focus on safety. Start by saying you want to ensure all the children are safe, no matter which vehicle they’re riding in. Most parents agree their children’s safety is essential.
- Start by talking about your own insurance. When you start the conversation by talking about what you did – for instance, how you raised your coverage limits because you realized the children in your carpool needed more protection一 you set an example. You invite others to join you rather than pushing them to do something.
No matter how other parents in your carpool respond, it’s important that you purchase enough auto insurance coverage to help ensure your child’s needs will be met if an accident occurs. In South Carolina, uninsured coverage helps cover your child’s needs if they’re injured while riding with a driver who doesn’t have enough coverage. Although insurance carriers are required to offer UM/UIM coverage to South Carolina drivers, drivers aren’t required to purchase underinsured coverage. To ensure you have full coverage for potential injuries and damages, make sure your policy includes uninsured coverage, underinsured coverage, and collision coverage. You will also want to review the policy limits to be sure in the event of an injury accident, your personal assets are protected by both your policy limits and, if applicable, an umbrella policy that provides added liability coverage. Be sure to speak with a qualified insurance agent about how best to protect yourself.
If you or your child are injured while in a school carpool, talk to our experienced South Carolina carpool accident lawyers today. The team at Steinberg Law Firm can help you understand your legal rights and available options.