Hax: Carpooling and texting don't mix

The Washington PostDecember 19, 2013 

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: I carpool with another young professional about an hour each way into our office. I'm lucky to save on gas, but my carpool engages in near constant texting when it's his turn to drive us. About once a week I ask him to put his phone down while driving, but I'm met with an emphatic "I'm not texting! I'm (insert other screen activity here)" or another crack about my driving habits.

I'm diligent about putting my phone away while driving and very rarely if ever fiddle with the stereo behind the wheel. I'm at a loss as to how to explain exactly how dangerous this is, not just to us, but to everyone on the road. Short of breaking up the carpool, what would you suggest?

CARPOOL

Breaking up the carpool.

I'm all for saving money and gas, but, really? I can't help you if you wrap up your question by ruling out the only good answer.

Maybe we can both get our way when you tell him, "Either your phone goes in the back seat or I'm not carpooling with you anymore" - but he's still going to be a combination of defensive and overconfident in his driving ability, and that's a problem even if he stops texting.

Carolyn: You're right, my carpool is by nature very defensive and overconfident in his abilities (driving and otherwise).

We work two cubicles away from one another … and live on the same block. We've known each other casually for years outside of work, and I'm very concerned that breaking up the carpool is going to turn into WWIII both among mutual friends and at work.

CARPOOL AGAIN

Since you're friends, colleagues and neighbors, approach this outside the car, over lunch or coffee. Say you appreciate his friendship and the carpool seems to work out well for both of you, but you've seriously considered pulling the plug over the phone thing. Will he agree to (a) let you hold his phone? or (b) let you drive and just split the gas in a way that's fair to both of you?

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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