my carpool driver is often late and talks on his phone while driving

A reader writes:

I work for a large company with an office out in the suburbs, and I live in the city without a car. So most days I carpool with one of the project managers who lives near me. He’s a nice guy, generally a safe driver, etc., but there are two problems: he often picks me up late or forces me to wait around for him at the end of the day, and he uses his cell phone while driving.

He sets a time for us to meet and then shows up late — sometimes just a few minutes, but this morning I was at our meeting spot at 7:50, as planned, so he could be on time for his weekly managers meeting. And he showed up at 8:05. He didn’t apologize at all. And then, because we were running late, he called in to his meeting during the last few minutes of the drive.

The phone use is actually a bigger problem: a few years ago, a friend of mine came very close to dying and lost both her parents in a car accident on college graduation day, because a kid was driving and talking on his cell phone. She now tours the country telling her story and urging kids not to use their phones for calls (or texts, for crying out loud) while driving.

I’ve told this story to this coworker, but it makes no difference. His teenage daughter will call him just to ask what’s for dinner and when he’ll be home, and instead of waiting 5 minutes until he IS home, he picks up. He’ll read texts while on the highway. It’s incredibly unsafe and given that he knows my friend’s history, it feels like a slap in the face.

Overall, between not having control over when I come and go from work, and not having control over his cell phone use, I feel helpless. A, he’s a nice guy, B, he’s sometimes my project manager, C, he’s doing me a favor by giving me rides for free. But it makes me consider going back to the 1.5 hour public transit commute to avoid the downsides of my carpool buddy. How can I gracefully get him to change his behavior? I don’t want to be rude or cause awkwardness.

I don’t think you can, unfortunately. He’s doing you a favor, and the favor is all one-way; it’s not a shared carpool where you’re doing some of the driving sometimes too. So he retains the right to be a little late and to maintain whatever habits he likes to maintain. You retain the right to decide that it’s not working for you and to bow out of the arrangement, but ultimately his behavior is up to him.

In other words, you can’t really tell him, “I need you to be on time when you pick me up,” because when you’re accepting a favor, you can only really take what’s on offer — and in this case, what’s on offer is a ride with unreliable pick-up times.

The cell phone issue is a bit different, because it’s a safety issue … but you’ve already told your friend’s story to no avail, so I’m not especially hopeful that anything else appropriate for you to say will get through. That said, it’s reasonable to try once more, as long as you tread lightly in recognition of, again, the fact that this is a favor. For instance, you could say, “I know we think differently on this, but is there any way I can convince you not to use your phone while you’re driving? Not just with me, but always? The thought of what could happen worries me so much.”

But that’s about all you can try. It’s not your place to push beyond that; it’s really up to him from there.

Ultimately, you probably need to accept that this is the price of getting rides with him and decide whether it’s a price you want to pay or not.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 181 comments… read them below }

  1. Malissa*

    Search for another car pool. In most major cities there are services to match people up. You’ll have to pay for gas and what not, but it’ll be a quicker ride than public transport and safer than you current arrangement. Also these kind of car pools have rules about times and notifications, so a basic level of respect is maintained.

  2. Adam V*

    I carpool as well; my coworker lives less than 5 minutes away. We alternate driving.

    I agree with Alison; in the absence of your own car, you’re unable to impose any sort of “reverse restrictions” that might modify his behavior (for example, telling him “sorry, we can’t continue to carpool together if you’re going to talk on your phone while driving, or if you can’t ensure I’m at work on time when you drive”).

  3. Anonymous*

    Is this really a question? The guy is doing a favor with no reciprocation, yet the OP wants more control? The “rides for free” part indicates OP is likely not even paying for gas!

    1. Adam V*

      It’s not like the OP is making unreasonable requests – “I want to be on time each day” and “I want to feel safe when I’m in a car”. It’s unfortunate that there’s no real way to get the driver to agree to those, and OP’s only real courses of action are “deal with it” or “find another (probably less convenient) option”.

      1. BCW*

        Well, it may be unreasonable if they have different schedule. If his schedule is flexible in that he can be there anytime between 8 and 10, and she has to be there by 9am everyday, then in essence she is asking him to give up his flexibility to accommodate her.

        1. Jessa*

          Except that when you agree to drive person x to location y at time z, you’re making a contract with them. NO it’s not some formal thing but if you cannot do it on a normal regular basis (99% of the time,) do not DO IT.

          There are real world consequences for you making your friend always late. They lose their job.

          I can’t argue the phone thing, because in some places it’s illegal and it’s ALWAYS a bad thing to do. But in that case? I’d BUY the person a handsfree set up and gift it to them.

          But just because you’re doing someone a favour does not mean you don’t have to do it PROPERLY.

          1. fposte*

            “NO it’s not some formal thing but if you cannot do it on a normal regular basis (99% of the time,) do not DO IT.”

            I don’t actually agree–I think a lot of people would rather have a slightly irregular carpool ride than no carpool ride.

            1. KellyK*

              Yeah, I think you both have a point. It really depends on how late they are, how often it happens and how big a deal it is. If your job requires that you show up at 8 on the dot, and you’re getting written up because the person driving is late, then it’s better to just take public transit.

              I do think that if you’re doing someone a favor, you’re obligated to let them know what you actually can do for them and meet that once you’ve agreed to it. If you say you’ll meet them at 7, meet them at 7 and call if you’re going to be late. If you can’t reliably be there at 7, then tell them that.

          2. Layla*

            It’s not a contract if there is no “consideration “, ie benefit for the driver

            1. FiveNine*

              Exactly. And not only is it not a contract, what OP is describing isn’t a carpool at all. It’s OP getting free rides to work from the coworker.

      2. someone else*

        But it is not like the driver is doing unreasonable things, either.

        Her biggest complain was him being 15 minutes late to their a.m. meeting time. They aren’t factory workers, and it’s likely his schedule varies with workload and home commitments. Mine sure does.

        Talking on a cell phone is not illegal in my state, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t do it.

        I might feel differently if her letter said he didn’t wait for her one day, was 1 hour late in the morning, or drove 90 miles an hour.

        1. Cat*

          Agreed. It sounds like the OP is waiting outside for the guy, which is a sucky situation. But that’s a reason to find a new carpool or take public transit, not ask the guy to change his routine.

          1. OP*

            OP here. I do chip in for gas on an informal basis – whenever he fills up the tank with me there, I pay, voluntarily. And the issue is not so much that I have to follow his schedule, but that HE doesn’t follow his schedule, so when I think I have a reliable ride home to get to an evening engagement, I end up waiting a half hour longer than I thought. Also, I would just like to add that NOBODY should be using their cellphone while driving. It really does cost people’s lives. It’s also illegal where I live, if that makes a difference in anyone’s mind.

            1. Victoria Nonprofit*

              Totally agree on the phone issue. Still, there’s nothing you can do about that (apparently, since what you’ve already tried hasn’t worked).

              But re: the schedule – apparently his schedule IS flexible. He may have described it as regular, but if he can call into his meetings/sometimes has to stay late/etc., he has a flexible schedule. You just need to decide whether that works for you. I know it wouldn’t work for me; I would hate to have my days tied to someone else’s irregular schedule.

            2. plain jane*

              I had a very similar experience. My awesome carpool friend moved, so I was stuck between the option of a 1.5-2.5 hour commute each way on public transit, or people who had trouble with timeliness, remembering to pick me up, and dangerous drivers (texting).

              I decided the aggravation from my annoyance (I knew they were doing me a favour, but it was one they offered) wasn’t worth the “convenience”, and I listened to a lot of podcasts, read books, shifted my work so I could work closer to home for a couple of days a week, and eventually found a new job closer to home.

              I could have bought a car myself, but I didn’t want to give certain people the satisfaction. (For more context, when I took the job, they were close to my house, then they moved, I didn’t.)

        2. Esra*

          Talking on a cell phone is not illegal in my state, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t do it.

          It’s so, so dangerous though and should be illegal. And kind of horrifying that everyone you know does it.

          I agree that a 15 minute window isn’t unreasonable in a relationship where you are always asking for a ride.

          Honestly, I’d go back to public transit.

          1. fposte*

            It’s such a norm in the US that it may never be able to get changed now, and I’m with you in thinking that’s a really bad thing.

            However, it’s a moot point for the OP–it’s clear what the terms of her ride are, and her choice is to accept or find another.

          2. someone else*

            Oh come on. Horrifying? I don’t live in NYC. I live on the outskirts of a suburb of a smaller city. I worry much more about deer – or people swerving around deer – than drivers on the phone.

            1. fposte*

              What we worry about and what actually endangers us are usually two different things, though.

            2. KellyK*

              Sure, but do you not worry about it because it’s actually not a threat, or just because it’s ubiquitous. It’s still a major contributor to accidents, whether people feel like it’s a big deal or not. (Based on some cursory googling, it looks like 900 people a year are killed by distracted drivers on cell phones, while only about 150 are killed by collisions with deer.)

              1. someone else*

                Of the people I have known who were killed in car accidents – one fell asleep, one was changing a CD (high school), one fell out of a car (high school), one got t-boned backing out of a driveway.

                Googling — 18% of accidents were related to distracted driving in 2010. This does not differentiate cell phone talking vs texting. It also doesn’t break out teen drivers, who have a much higher accident rate. So, 82% of accidents were from OTHER CAUSES, so I do not worry specifically about cell phone talking. I am against texting and driving.

                I know someone whose a professional driver and their employer doesn’t allow cell phone talking or texting while the vehicle is moving. They can pull records for this. So you know what they do instead? Send emails from a smart phone. Laws and rules have unintended consequences. This person drives 100,000 mi per year, and previously was able to talk on a cell phone while driving for 20 years. He’s received a 3 million mile accident free safety award, so I guess from a personal perspective I don’t see talking on a cell phone while driving as a 1-way ticket to hell. Better off with 100% of attention on the road, 100% of the time. Sure, but there are other distractions all around us. People pulling on and off the road to make calls is also a danger.

                1. KellyK*

                  Nobody ever said it’s a one-way ticket to hell or a guarantee that you’re going to get in an accident. For that matter, driving drunk while speeding isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get in an accident, but that doesn’t make either a good idea.

                  I’m sure there are very good drivers who are excellent at multitasking who have no problem with it. I’m also sure that the majority of people driving and using their cell phones aren’t in this category.

                  I would agree with you that texting is worse, but unless your phone is 100% voice-controlled, you still have to dial, and while you’re doing that, your eyes are off the road, just as they would be if you were texting.

                  I also agree that rules can have unforeseen consequences, but that doesn’t always make it a bad rule. It may just mean the consequences need to be considered.

                2. fposte*

                  And I’m seeing the statistics really differently–18% of all accidents is a *huge* percentage for an easily controllable factor.

            3. Esra*

              Yes, horrifying. I grew up in a smaller city outside of Toronto and my family’s towing company had the police contract so we had a police scanner on all the time in the background. Drinking and distracted driving cause a lot of completely avoidable pain.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          It’s not safe to be on the phone while driving, no matter what your state laws say. The number one cause of traffic accidents is inattention and cell phones draw your attention away from what you are supposed to be doing–driving. Her concern about it is legitimate. If I carpooled with someone who did this, especially the text crap, I would bail so fast the Roadrunner would be hard pressed to keep up with me.

          If she doesn’t feel safe, she really needs to find another ride. I agree that she can’t control his behavior. But yes, his behavior re safety issues is unreasonable.

          1. TL*

            I just took a defensive driving course (for speeding) and it said the number one cause of accidents/deaths was speeding.

            1. KellyK*

              I would believe that, though I wonder how accidents with multiple causes are counted. (That is, if you’re going 70 while texting, is it counted as either or both?)

        4. Jazzy Red*

          “Talking on a cell phone is not illegal in my state, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t do it.”

          I don’t do it. I’m amazed that you think it’s OK.

          1. KellyK*

            Yep. I don’t either. Well, that’s not 100% true. I’ve called someone for directions while trying to find their house, and I’ve done it a couple times when I’m stuck in traffic at a standstill or stop-and-go where “go” is a blazing 5 mph. (The first was a bad idea, though hard to avoid because there was no shoulder or anywhere to pull over, and I wouldn’t do it again.)

            But everybody doing a dumb thing doesn’t make it any less a dumb thing.

          2. Aussiegirl*

            Obviously things are a bit different in the USA, but here in Aus. it’s illegal to talk or text while driving. You can use a handsfree device but you cannot pickup your phone while driving. You can’t even be seen touching it. There are heavy fines if caught. I’m amazed reading all these comments that so many people think its OK or normal to talk and/or text while driving. An accident waiting to happen. Bet you are still allowed to smoke in your car with children on board? Not here. As far as the OP goes, take public transport – much safer and obviously a bit less stressful.

            1. LondonI*

              Yep – it’s been illegal in the UK too since 2006, unless you’re using a hands-free kit.

        5. Jessa*

          15 minutes late depending on where they work and whether 15 minutes late to pick the op up means 15 minutes late to WORK is an issue.

          I think the OP needs to clarify. Is the driver being later to pick the OP up making the OP late for work or just inconvenient? If it’s inconvenient then get one of those 10 buck fold in a bag chairs for waiting in. If it’s “Late to work or constantly so late to an appointment that you have dr visits cancelled,” this is an ISSUE.

          The phone may be stoppable with a call to the kid actually. “You know next time you pick that phone up I’m gonna call the kid and family and tell em you’re endangering the life of the parent they all love because they’re calling you in the car for non emergencies.”

        6. Anonymous*

          It might not be illegal in your state but it is dangerous in every state and if you are doing it you should stop now, you are endangering lives. I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect to be safe.

          That said I think the OP should find a different way to work. Relying on others never works out. Other people are trying to get him killed.

      3. Jamie*

        It’s not like the OP is making unreasonable requests

        I disagree. The driver should have the common courtesy to call when late (or apologize) but that’s not because of circumstance – that’s just polite when you are late meeting anyone. Being put out because he expects her to wait at the end of the day – that’s absolutely unreasonable.

        As noted, he’s doing her a favor – he’s not a cabby.

        Regarding the phone thing – texting is also a pet peeve of mine (three young drivers – I lecture against this all the time) but after saying it once you can’t police another adults behavior. You can remove yourself from the situation – which is what she should do.

        It’s never a co-workers job to get someone else to and from work and maybe it’s personal bias, but I’ve seen too many people feel entitled to rides. If you choose not to own a car you need to be self sufficient in your transportation. If someone wants to give you rides, you’re lucky, but no one owes anyone a lift. And never offering gas money? Once or twice is a favor – for a regular thing you offer to contribute, imo.

        1. OP*

          All worthwhile points – just want to say that I never said I don’t offer gas money – I do so regularly.

          1. Jamie*

            Your original letter noted that you were getting rides for free – that’s why people inferred there was no gas money.

        2. Your Mileage May Vary*

          The driver should have the common courtesy to call when late

          Especially since he’s proven he has a phone in the car and isn’t afraid to use it!

      4. FiveNine*

        Well, in fact, when the OP doesn’t have a car, isn’t reciprocating, and is riding for free, the OP’s only real courses of actions really ARE to either deal with it or find another (probably less convenient) option.

  4. The IT Manager*

    Unfortunately for LW, I agree with Alison. This sounds like a complete favor and as such he gets to dictate the terms. You can accept them or not accept the ride.

    I’m not opposed to talking on the phone while driving (although dialing can be a dangerous aspect), but reading text … very scary.

  5. Lanya*

    My mother would say, “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”.
    Or in this case, if you don’t like the horse, don’t ride it.

  6. P14*

    Try gifting him a bluetooth/hands free device at least. Even if you do stop carpooling with him, it would be nice if the road was a little safter for other drivers sharing a road with him.

    1. The Snarky B*

      I actually find this pretty passive aggressive. And I hate getting junk from people that I don’t want or won’t use. If he wants to talk on his phone, he’s going to.

      1. P14*

        It’s not passive when she’s already voiced her complaint. He might use it, he might not. If it makes things safer for all involved, give it a try at least.

      2. KellyK*

        It’s also kind of a pricey gift for a work friend, especially when he’s a project manager, which adds a layer of awkwardness to any gift-giving. If it was a family member or close friend from way back, it might be reasonable. (And even then, it could still be a little pushy if they hadn’t said they *wanted* a hands-free set-up.)

    2. Spolio*

      But this still wouldn’t address the main issue: the biggest problem with phone calls while driving is that you’re paying attention to the conversation instead of the road. Even on a headset, you’re still distracted from driving, which is what you should be focusing on behind the wheel.

      1. Emily K*

        This x 1,000!! Hands-free is just a way to sell cell phone accessories. You don’t crash while talking on the phone just because you were physically holding it in your hand. You crash because you were paying more attention to the conversation than the road. A similar risk is present when you get distracted by other passengers (which is why teen drivers in many states aren’t allowed to carry passengers when they first get their license) although it’s slightly less since the passenger may alert to danger they can see before you do, whereas the person on the other end of your phone definitely won’t.

        1. Another Emily*

          A proper hands free set up lets you call someone, talk to them, and hang up, all without having to look at your phone or handle it even once. This means that you can have a cell phone conversation with both hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. This is safer than dialing a number manually and holding the phone in one hand.

          To the OP’s issue, even though you buy gas when you can, I think that if you don’t like the way he drives and his being late (fair), then you shouldn’t accept rides from him anymore.

  7. Anonymous*

    I assume this is in a country where this is even legal? In the UK it is illegal to use your mobile phone while driving, or even to use it while sitting in the driving seat if the car is on.

    You do not have to continue taking lifts from this person, but I still think you should be able to tell him to stop using his phone, whether you’re in the car or not, unless it is legal to be using it.

    1. fposte*

      It’s state by state, and states that ban adult drivers from using phones are the minority. Some of them (wrongly, IMHO, given the findings about them not making things safer) permit calls as long as they’re on hands-free phones. Texting is more widely illegal but still not universally.

    2. Christine*

      It sounds like this is in the U.S. and some states (don’t know how many) have made using the cell phone illegal unless it is hands-free; texting is also illegal in some states (again, don’t know the exact figures).

  8. BCW*

    Seriously? He is saving you time and money by giving you a ride and you want to push that farther by telling him when to be where, and what to do while he drives? He’s not your chauffeur. You are definitely overstepping your bounds. Thats the definition of riding WITH someone, you have no control. If you need control, I suggest you buy yourself a car.

    As far as it being awkward, I don’t even think you need to worry about that. Just say, “I appreciate the rides you have been giving me, but since it seems that often we have different time requirements, I’m just going to start taking public transportation.”

    I doubt he’ll feel awkward about that at all.

    1. Kim*

      I agree with all of this. He’s probably going to be relieved that you don’t want to ride with him anymore.

      1. Sarah*

        Me too…
        Also texting while in bumper to bumper traffic on a highway is significantly less dangerous (full disclosure I have done this and this is what I’m picturing him doing) … If he’s actually texting while driving fast (which would be really bad) than I’d seek other transportation. So more context would be helpful.

  9. Anonymous*

    Wow. . .I think the OP is the inconsiderate one.
    Not only is this person driving you, for free, but it sounds like he’s possibly senior to you (“he’s sometimes my project manager”) and you’re complaining that he doesn’t accomodate your schedule on when to leave work. Sometimes work has to be finished! Additionally, you want to tell him how to manage his family life and when he can and can’t talk to his teenage daughter. 1. His daughter doesn’t know when he’s going to be home (5 min or an hour when she calls), and 2. he doesn’t know if she’s calling to ask what’s for dinner or to tell him that the toilet is flooding the house.

    I’m sorry to hear about your friend’s tragic experience, but it wasn’t your experience, and I don’t think the driver is personally insulting you by not hanging up. I would think of it like riding with a drunk driver, if you feel that strongly about it. You should be the one to make the decision to not get in the car with him.

    1. Brittany*

      +1. Ultimately it’s her choice to get in the car with this guy everyday even if he is late or makes her unsafe. Gas is expensive and if that isn’t even on the table, this is a complete favor he is doing. If I offered to drive someone to work and then found out they were criticizing how I do it, the next move would be tuck and roll.

      Also, one accident, however tragic, does not dictate the masses. Talking on a cell phone is absolutely legal in most states, though texting is not. It seems a little hypersensitive to assume he should NEVER be on his cell phone at all just because you feel a certain way. Also, without even knowing circumstances for him, you’re expecting him to cater to your feelings quite a bit without budging yourself after he’s made his choice clear. I am sorry about your friend and you can certainly offer something like a hands free device, but ultimately it is his choice how he uses his personal vehicle and phone.

      So, for me, this is a put up or shut up moment. Either take the ride he is offering or stop talking about it.

      1. fposte*

        Actually, texting is legal in 11 states. Talking on a handheld is legal in 40. Novice drivers and school bus drivers are subject to restrictions in more states, though.

      2. Jessa*

        It doesn’t matter if it’s illegal. Every single insurance underwriting agency has shown categorically it increases accidents. There’s no maybe about this. Phone use is a HUGE cause of accidents. The fact that the law in most of the states has not yet caught up to this is due to the fact that it does and SHOULD take a long time to change laws.

        This however, does not make it right or sensible to talk on a phone while driving. And it’s absolutely the duty of the passengers to say this just as much as if the driver is not wearing a seatbelt without an exemption.

        1. RLS*

          This! There really is no gray area here. You’re not focused on the road. Cars are weapons. Multi-tasking might be a great skill in the workplace, but it is not a good one on the road or whenever operating any machinery.

          Have I used my phone while driving? Sure have. Scared the poo out of me though. Speakerphone or bust. Voice commands. They’re everywhere. I don’t even have a smartphone and my device can do that. If you “must” text, hand the phone off to a passenger and dictate one, if you feel comfortable with them, that is. If not, the text can wait!

          1. fposte*

            But we all have grey areas–you’re smack in one with the speakerphone, since it’s the inattention, not the handling, that’s the problem. But it’s tough to give up the convenience when something doesn’t *feel* unsafe, regardless of the actuarials.

    2. RLS*

      To a point, I disagree. Yes, the leaving work time is pretty much up to the driver, when work needs to be finished.

      However, people have a responsibility when they drive. I agree that the OP should simply seek alternate transportation. But the fact is, holding a drivers’ license is not a free-for-all. Whether or not there is a specific mobile phone law in place, using it usually does fall under the “distracted driving” category. That does put other people at risk. She feels unsafe and she SHOULD, because he is being a dangerous driver.

      Yes, there is definitely etiquette to consider here. A superior going out of his way to take someone to work and back home, free of charge (especially with current gas prices!) doesn’t give her much leeway to ask that he curbs his behavior. However, I have a hard time believing that if we were reading this article as a story about a tragic crash that killed a manager and co-worker because of texting and driving you would still be shaming the OP: “Welp, it’s their fault anyway for getting in the car.”

      However, work relationships are a two-way street. If this driver is sometimes’ the OPs project manager, what impression does that give the team? If the OP has a different impression about this person when working under them, how might that reflect on the managers’ ability to lead the team and project?

      Having a leadership position over someone does not mean that the person works for you (unless you are the business owner). It is the other way around. Leaders have a duty to take care of their subordinates. Maslow’s hierarchy 101: safety first. Regardless who is performing the favor, the OP does not feel safe with this person and he is (sometimes) her superior.

      For the OP: understandably, it is probably best to consider the managers’ work demands and schedule. It’s not clear in this note, but perhaps he has a situation that can make his schedule a bit shaky. It could be traffic. Who knows? I also agree with Alison, there really isn’t much leeway you have here with the situation. As dangerous (and frustrating!) as it is, he is unfortunately making choices you can’t make for him. But you can make the choice to keep yourself safe and timely :)

      I still think that it’s mutually inconsiderate of him to put others at danger, however. The timing is rather uncontrollable, but it makes me wonder if he would put his phone down if his daughters’ best friend was in the car instead of you.

    3. Kara*

      The OP posted in the comments that it is illegal to talk on the phone while driving in that state. I can agree with the schedule – its not really up to him/her, even if the OP does chip in for gas (which he/she said was the case), but there is some merit to taking issue with a person who is conducting a potentially dangerous and illegal activity, even if they are doing you a favor.

      1. BCW*

        I get that. But you know what, so is speeding. But if you someone is driving (not your parent or spouse) you probably don’t tell them to slow down just because you prefer the speed limit. At some point when you start pointing out the “bad” behaviors that someone is doing while they drive, you just become a nuisance. If I was giving someone a ride and they felt the need to critique me, even if they were right in the legal sense, I would get annoyed with them. I know its not the same, but where is the line?

        1. -X-*

          There are gradations. I might not tell, but would surely ask or suggest at times, even if the ride was a favor to me.

          Someone talking to on the phone while stopped at a light I would never mention. Talking on the phone in a very hectic traffic: “Hey, maybe the call can wait – it’s pretty hectic right now.”

          Speeding 10mph or maybe even 20mph in low traffic and good conditions on a highway, no. Through a school zone 20mph over – yes I would say something: “Hey, the speed limit’s 30 here.”

          The line is around real danger to ourselves and other people. It’s not a legal line.

          And if the person didn’t listen, I’d do my best to not ride with them again.

          1. Kara*

            I agree with X – there isn’t a concrete answer to that. BCW, it would really depend on the severity of the behavior, but I actually would ask the driver to slow down in certain situations. Speeding more than about 15 over or in a construction or school zone, yes, I absolutely would. Talking on the phone while driving, it really depends – its not illegal in my state. Texting while driving in certain areas is, but not talking.

            Accidents can happen even when someone is following the law perfectly. A recent example is my daughter’s teacher, who died in a car wreck on Easter. Her fiance was driving, it was raining, and some old lady ‘just didn’t see them’. Their car flipped into a utility pole, which split it in half, and the teacher died on the scene, her fiance on the way to the hospital. He had been driving perfectly – not speeding, seatbelt on, no cell phone distraction. But it still happened. So being anal and pestering someone with requests to follow the law, slow down, get off the phone, etc, don’t always mean you’ll never have an accident.

            I personally talk on the phone while driving, so I probably wouldn’t give it a second thought unless the driver was noticeably distracted (weaving through cars with no blinker, failure to maintain lane, sudden stops, etc) or performing another activity at the same time as driving and talking (eating, applying makeup, etc). Its about the degree of danger, not the specific action. And I’m bold enough to speak up, even if its a favor. Actually, if the behavior were severe enough, I would request the driver pull over and I would call a cab.

          2. Natalie*

            “The line is around real danger to ourselves and other people. It’s not a legal line.”

            Exactly. If someone is speeding “sensibly” – staying with the flow of traffic and maintaining a reasonable following distance – a passenger probably won’t even be able to tell. For most people, 55 or 65 feels exactly the same from inside the car and it’s pretty hard to read the speedometer from the passenger’s side.

            But I’ve been a passenger with more than one person who was generally driving recklessly (cutting people off, failing to yield to pedestrians or cyclists, etc). I’ve called them out and I’ll keep doing it. If they aren’t willing to moderate their behavior than I’m happy to take the bus.

        2. Jamie*

          But if you someone is driving (not your parent or spouse) you probably don’t tell them to slow down just because you prefer the speed limit.

          Ha – I have been known for my very helpful advice from the passenger seat when my husband is driving and he kindly suggests that I go for a ride with one of the kids if I want to teach someone how to drive.

          None of this is to say texting while driving would be okay with me – it wouldn’t – and I would probably say something. But then I would opt not to drive with that person again because I don’t want to police the behavior of other adults.

          1. Chinook*

            “But then I would opt not to drive with that person again because I don’t want to police the behavior of other adults.”

            I have to agree that the only obvious optionw hen you see someone who regularly endangers you/breaks the law while you are a passenger is to not drive with them again. If you saw your coworker drinking before getting behind the wheel, would you ride with him?

            Jamie, it could be worse – you could be driving and have your (cop) spouse threaten to give you a ticket while he is your passenger. I think there was a joke abotu that on an episode of “Due South.”

          2. Kathryn in Finance*

            This. In college, one of the classes I had to take was at a remote campus, and I arranged a carpool with someone from another one of my classes. On our first ride down to the other campus, he sped the entire way on back roads (and we’re in Michigan which means a ton of deer) and was texting the entire time. I made a comment, but it just went completely over his head. For the next class, I just told him my work schedule was too erratic, and I didn’t want to make him late so I would just drive myself. No harm, no feelings hurt.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          The hell I don’t. If they’re going 90 in a 60 (or other obviously reckless speeds), you better believe I’m going to say something. Maybe in a joking manner–“Hey, Bob, I’d like to get there alive,” or “You know the smokies hang out on this road; you might want to dial it down a bit.” If Bob blows me off, I’m not riding with him any more.

          My safety or lack thereof is my concern but when someone else is in my car, I do not drive like a maniac and I don’t expect other people to do it to me.

          1. BCW*

            Well again though, then its your choice to stay in the car. If I was giving me a ride and they felt the need to critique my driving, at the next red light I’d give them the option of leaving my car at that point, or shutting up about my driving if they have a problem with it. Now full disclosure, I’ve had only 2 moving violations in 16 years of driving, so I’m clearly not an erratic driver. But I don’t take kindly to people telling me what I should and shouldn’t do when they are my passenger.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Then I’m very glad I’m not riding with you. If you would kick someone out at a red light for pointing out that you were doing something unsafe (which was the point of my comment), I would consider you too unstable to be around. AT ALL.
              Backseat driving IS annoying. Although I don’t do it, I will most definitely speak up if you are being dangerous. That is all.

              1. BCW*

                I didn’t say I’d kick them out, I said I’d give them the option to get out themselves or shut up. Big difference. Its like if someone comes to your house and critiques your decor. Your place, your rules. If you don’t like it, you have the right to leave.

    4. Jessa*

      Why is everyone saying it’s inconsiderate to expect someone to be ON TIME or to let you know they’re not. I do not get this. Whether they’re giving you a ride, being on a date, going shopping with you, going to a movie, whatever.

      Why is it acceptable to say “I’ll be there at 3 and be there at 3:30 with no phone call or anything.”

      Now if I’m wrong and the OP is going “get here at 6,” and the driver is being “eh okay maybe,” that’s different. But even if it’s totally free and the OP never offers gas money (which they said they do,) if you AGREE to be at x place at y time, you do that. You’ve made a COMMITMENT.

      1. Anonymous*

        I totally agree with this. The OP isn’t dictating the schedule, it sounds like the driver is saying their schedule and the OP is agreeing, the OP is then ready to go at the correct time and the driver doesn’t show up or let the OP know.

        If Jack schedules a meeting at 3 and doesn’t show up til 3:15 I think most people here would say that was unprofessional. The same applies here.

        I’d also quit meeting with Jack if that was the case.

      2. KellyK*

        Yeah, I totally agree with this. It’s still rude to be chronically late, even if it’s a favor.

        1. Sarah*

          For me it’s about intention. Is the driver deliberately throwing off the schedule ? If not then I personally don’t find it as rude as the OP does. He may just have a harder time sticking to a schedule.

          1. KellyK*

            Yeah, it’s *worse* if it’s deliberate (not in a malicious way, but even “oh, hey I want to stop for coffee, oh, well, OP can wait”). But it’s still inconsiderate either way.

  10. just laura*

    I disagree with the commenters who are coming down on OP. It’s a perfectly reasonable request, although there isn’t much you can do if the driver disagrees. It’s not like OP is asking for a foot massage at the end of the ride!

    1. Mrs Addams*

      I agree with you. The OP isn’t making unreasonable requests. IMO if you offer a regular lift/carpool arrangement with someone else then you have some responsibility to stick to the agreed schedule. Yes, you’re doing a favour, but when someone is dependant upon on that favour (and you know it) you should be respectful of the fact. Not saying you have to bow to their every whim, of course, but offering a favour to someone in need and then regularly screwing them around (intentionally or otherwise) is not a nice thing to do.

      1. Anon*

        And this right here is why I would never agree to be someone’s ride on an ongoing basis. A short-term situation because they broke their foot – sure. But long-term – no – because before you know it I have a “responsibility” to uphold that I didn’t ask for.

        1. fposte*

          I suspect a lot of problems result from a ride-getter who thinks it’s a responsibility and a ride-giver who thinks it’s a favor.

  11. Jubilance*

    If you don’t like it, either find a new carpool or get a car. Problem solved. He’s doing you a favor and you can’t force him to be on time or not use his phone just cause you don’t like it. Clearly he’s fine with both of those things so if you don’t like it, you have to extricate yourself from the situation.

  12. KellyK*

    I don’t think “meet when we agree to meet” and “don’t engage in dangerous behavior that a lot of states have outlawed” are at all inconsiderate requests when you’re riding with someone. *But* that’s all they are: requests. Because he’s doing you a favor, there’s no way to make it not awkward if you push the issue. You really have to either accept it or find another way to work, as much as those options both suck.

    Also, as a side note, if you’re riding to work with someone regularly, you should be chipping in for gas, especially if your house isn’t 100% on their way (as in, they would drive past it even if they weren’t picking you up).

      1. fposte*

        Definitely. If you get benefit from the driving, you’re obligated to contribute to its expenses.

      2. KellyK*

        Oh, absolutely. I just meant that it’s even *more* important if you’re inconveniencing them.

      3. Jamie*

        I agree. I don’t like the argument that it’s not an additional cost because they’d be going that way anyway. By that logic buses and trains would be free since they were going that way anyway. If you are benefiting at someone else’s expense you help offset the cost.

        My daughter gets a lift into school twice a week from her friend who lives a couple of houses down. Same school, same schedule. I give her money for gas not because it is an inconvenience to her as much as it’s a convenience to my daughter. It’s the least someone can do, IMO.

        1. Cat*

          And it is forcing the guy onto a more set schedule, for instance, than he’d otherwise be on (even if he doesn’t always keep to it). I know I will leave both my house and work at any point during about an hour period, maybe more, on any given day. It would be a significant inconvenience to have to sync up with someone else.

          1. A Bug!*

            Yeah, for sure. Even if you adhere to a schedule 98% of the time, there’s value to me in knowing that I don’t have to. If I wanted to stick to a schedule every single day ever, I’d just take the bus myself!

    1. someone else*

      I have only had to pick up a coworker once, and he was on my way. He had a broken leg and couldn’t drive. I went to college with him and we had known each other for ~6-7 years at the time, and he still bent over backwards to make sure it wasn’t inconvenient for me. If I needed to be to work at 7 am, that was fine. 8 am? Fine. No complaints.

      I just have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of someone asking for a favor trying to set terms, esp. when it sounds like they are not even work friends and the project manager is older/more senior than the OP.

      1. OP*

        Actually, I would consider him a work friend, and we get along well, which is the only reason that I’ve told him about my friend who nearly died – she came up in friendly conversation. I go by his schedule and do take the train when I need to make my own schedule. And I’ve never complained to him, which is why I’m wrestling with what to do. I genuinely appreciate the favor, and I’ve told him so and chip in for gas often.

    2. OP*

      That’s exactly what I was getting at – I’m not trying to dictate his behavior, and I haven’t been pushy. It would be a request and he’s acting within his rights (although the cell phone use is illegal here). I also do chip in for gas frequently, although he does not go out of his way for me. If I did raise this stuff with him, it’d be a request.. the question isn’t whether it’s fair to expect safety, but whether there’s a non-awkward way to raise it.

      1. fposte*

        But you’ve said you already have raised it, and it hasn’t changed his behavior. I think the ride you’re getting is the ride you’re going to get, and you have to decide whether you’re going to take it or leave it.

      2. Anonymous*

        ” the question isn’t whether it’s fair to expect safety, but whether there’s a non-awkward way to raise it.”

        No. There is no non-awkward way to say “While you are doing me this favor, I want you to also modify your preferred behavior to suit my needs”. Nope.

        I understand you think you have the moral high ground on the phone use but even if you do, so what? You are in HIS car and if you don’t like how he behaves his car, find another solution. You’ve mentioned to him why you have a sensitivity around this issue – he hasn’t changed his behavior. I understand you think if you find ANOTHER way to communicate your concerns, he will magically be convinced to see things your way and change. Not likely.

        I disagree about asking the person to call/text you when they are leaving the house – that’s more work for them. I think you need to suck it up and be thankful you have someone willing to do this for you or find another way to get yourself to work.

      3. Anonymous*

        While I agree nothing you are saying or expecting is unreasonable I will say you should give up and take whatever alternative method of transport is available to you. Nothing will make it ok for you to expect to be safe in the eyes of the people here.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Oh come on. No one is saying it’s unreasonable for her to expect to be safe. They are saying that the favor being offered is a ride under these conditions, and she can take it or leave it. She can’t require him to change to suit her, even if what she’d like it reasonable.

    3. Christine*

      I was surprised at the “free” part too. Whenever someone gives me a ride, I always offer to help pay for gas, but the person is always like, “Don’t worry about it”. It’s possible that’s the case here, but it seems unlikely.

  13. Sarah*

    I feel like if this is such a big deal for you and such an inconvenience… you should look into getting a car? Easy solution, buy one used and make monthly payments.

    1. Kelly L.*

      OP doesn’t even necessarily need to do that, but she may need to go back to the public transit commute if she doesn’t want to get a car (or can’t, for whatever reason).

    2. Lizzie B.*

      Depending on where the OP lives, it may not be an easy solution. In Chicago, car ownership is a huge hassle; parking is very expensive, when you can find it at all, and the annual tag fee isn’t cheap either. A monthly installment payment, plus gas, plus insurance, plus parking might well be beyond what the OP can afford.

    3. some1*

      It’s such an easy solution that I am sure there’s a good reason (financial, medical, legal, etc) the LW doesn’t own a car already. I am sure it occurred to her that commuting in her own car would be more convenient than taking public transportation for an hour and a half (her original plan).

      No offense to you, but my mother (who is not elderly) has a disability that isn’t obvious from looking at her and is no longer allowed to drive. When I tell people I need to drive my mom here or there because my dad is busy, they almost always ask me why she doesn’t get her own car, like none of us had ever thought of that.

  14. Angelina Retta*

    It stops being a favour when it stops meeting your needs. Not arriving on time and putting your safety in jeopardy through texting are legitimate concerns. I’ve been there when it comes to the hour+ commute but at least I always knew the bus driver could be held accountable for what time s/he arrived and that texting was against company policy.

    It does sound like he isn’t going to change his behaviour so I’d recommend finding a new way to work since this isn’t working for you. Showing up 15 minutes late without so much as a ‘sorry’ isn’t acceptable in my book either.

  15. Christine*

    I think KellyK put it best – these requests are definitely not unreasonable, but it’s not always possible; things can take longer at work, things happen at home that can delay leaving the house. Sure, it would be considerate to at least tell the OP that he’s running late for pickup or needs to stay late at the end of the day, but I’m slowwwwly learning that you sometimes just have to buck up and deal with it or explore other options.

    In fact, I would look into alternate options now, even if it’s just as a Plan B for when this guy is going to be late or has to stay late. The 1.5 hour commute sucks–trust me, I’ve had to do it myself–but you may have to keep that as an option.

    Another thing: I can’t offer any suggestions about calling/texting his daughter–that one bugs me, but I can’t think of anything that won’t tarnish your working relationship–but if he needs to take a meeting in the car en route, I wonder if you might consider taking over the driving (unless you don’t have a license–it’s not clear from your letter). He may not like the idea, but it would help make this arrangement more reciprocal.

    1. Christine*

      OP – I see you’ve replied and you’ve stated that you chip in for gas–I apologize for implying that your arrangement was not reciprocal.

      1. OP*

        No worries – it wasn’t clear in my original question to AAM, I realize, because I said “rides for free”.

  16. Anonymous*

    OP you say you don’t have a car, but do you have a driver’s license and can drive (as in you’ve driven recently enough to be in practice)? One option, especially if your car pool buddy keeps getting business calls in the morning is for you to offer to drive. Some people might not want another person driving their vehicle, but you could present it to him as being able to get work done more efficiently. Also you could ask the driver that instead of giving you a set time, that they call/text as they are leaving their house, so that you’re not waiting or wondering what’s going on. Also you could offer to call/text the driver to see if they are on time (I know some people would hate this with a fiery passion, but for some people it’s a relief to not have to worry what time it is and if they are late to something, especially if they are juggling multiple things including childcare.) If everything gets turned down, then the offer of a very nice hand-free device for the cell phone might solve the problem. Depending on the relationship between this person and their gadgets, the hands-free device might be more appreciated than the offer to pay for gas.

    1. Jamie*

      Some people might not want another person driving their vehicle

      I have always been curious about this whenever I see someone just let someone drive their car – is this something most people are comfortable doing?

      Maybe it’s just me, but offering to drive my car would be like offering to sleep with my husband and you’d get the same response…a big no and I’d wonder what would make you think of asking.

      I leave total room for the possibility I’m weird on this – but I can’t conceive of a situation where I would let someone (who is not a member of my immediate family) get behind the wheel of my car unless I was unconscious.

      1. TL*

        If they’re a safe and trusted driver (good friends/family), than I’ll let them drive my car if I’m suddenly incapacitated – like the one time I got sick at Wal-Mart.
        I’ve also let a couple of new drivers drive for practice in very safe places with me in the passenger seat. (My car is wonderful but not very nice so another small dent wouldn’t bug me much.)
        I’ve driven lots of other people’s cars for various reasons – visiting with no car, they don’t want to, they overindulged at dinner, they’re uncomfortable driving in the city, they have a nice car and are very nice – though.

        1. Jamie*

          For me it’s less a trust issue than an intimacy issue. It just seems intimate to have someone else drive your car. Like having someone sleep in your bed.

          And reading that I realize I’m crazy and this is my own weird problem – sometimes living by the rules in my head is exhausting. :)

          1. Heather*

            I don’t like people driving my car either. And I don’t like driving other people’s cars either.

          2. Chinook*

            You are not crazy. My DH is the same about his vehicle. I still remeber the look he gave my mother when she suggested that my brother drive us from the wedding ceremony to the banquet in DH’s car – let’s just say it didn’t improve their relationship.

            Though, he does make an exception for the rare time he has been drinking (so someone can drive him home) which I can guarantee he would never make for someone else sleeping in his bed row ith me.

            1. Lindsay J*

              I have been with my fiance for six years and I have only driven his truck once (and that was without him knowing it at the time – I had gotten drunk and hitched a ride home with friends the night before, and when I woke up the next morning I needed go somewhere real quick while he was still asleep.)

              Friends asked to borrow his truck while they are moving and that was not going to happen. He offered to go help them move and drive it, but them taking that truck out of his sight was not happening.

              Usually when we go places we take my car, since obviously I drive it and I have no such issues with him driving it so we can alternate driving as necessary.

          3. TL*


            I have a huge family and we all juggle cars when we’re together, plus my mom isn’t always able to drive, plus my family had nearly 10 vehicles when I was learning to drive- they own their own business – so I guess I just got used to sharing cars/driving what was available at an early age.

          4. -X-*

            A bed is a little more intimate than a car, but I’ve loaned both out. Sometimes at the same time.

            A friend of a friend (who I’d met) was visiting my city for about a week from another country, with his girlfriend, and the mutual friend asked if they could stay with me. I know he’s a normal (clean) guy and my wife was away for several weeks, so I offered to them to use our big bedroom and I stayed in our spare bedroom which has a smaller bed. My wife was OK with this.

            And I also loaned them our car (which I wasn’t using) so they didn’t have to rent.

            Cars are just things. Beds are too. I like mine, but am not put off by having other people use them.

            Particularly cars – I used to do all kinds of travel for sports and it’s so much easier when we’re all willing to share cars, rides, driving, etc. Makes trips more flexible.

          5. Natalie*

            It’s probably just what you’re used to. I’ve never had a car that was just mine – as a teenager and young adult I either borrowed a family member’s car or shared a car with my brother. Subsequently, my partner and I shared a car for about 6 years (my name was on the title but we drove it equally often). When it finally died we decided to try out a car-sharing service rather than buying a new car.

            Neither of us like driving that often and we live in the city, so even if we do decide to buy a car we’ll probably never have 2 vehicles.

          6. Rana*

            I understand what you mean. I got my car new in 1996, and with the exception of the 11 miles that were already on it, and about 5 miles my mother drove once (with me in the passenger seat), and every single mile aside from those has been put on it by me.

            I’d be willing to let my husband drive it – if he could drive stick, which he can’t – but I really, really don’t like the idea of someone else driving my car unless it’s an absolute necessity (like moving it around the lot when it’s at the shop).

      2. Cat*

        Personally, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest, but I hate driving and love an excuse to get out of it.

      3. HSTeacher*

        I HATE driving with a passion so if I trust the person and I know that they are a decent driver, I have no problems letting someone else drive my car. I drive because its practical and I have to, not because I enjoy doing it.

      4. Jen in RO*

        I don’t have a problem with others driving my car, I’m not extremely attached to it and I’m not exactly careful when it comes to bumping into things (no major accidents, but I did bang up a door parking into a fence…). I would only be worried if I didn’t trust them in a car in general, but then it would be an issue even if they were driving their own car and I was a passenger.

      5. Anonymous*

        I don’t mind letting other people borrow my car, but then it’s old and already has some dents and scratches, so there’s not much else someone could do to it that would bother me. I’ve loaned my car to family members so they could take a trip that was a 2 hour drive one way (they hadn’t had the time or money to fix their car). I’d even let a coworker drive my car if they needed to. I’m just not that attached to my car. My books on the other hand…I don’t like letting anyone touching them let alone someone borrow them.

      6. KellyK*

        I’m apparently much more possessive of my husband than of my car. And I’m also not a fan of driving. I have let people drive when I was tired or my ankle was bothering me, and I’ve certainly let friends borrow my car (with the expectation that it will come back as clean as it was when they got it, which is probably not very but at least it’s *my* mess, and with at least as much gas in the tank).

  17. Sniper*

    Yeah, this is all on the OP. it doesn’t even sound like you kick in anything for gas. It’s time to get a car, move closer to work, deal with public transportation, find someone else who can shuttle you to work or put up with these minor inconveniences. Sorry.

      1. E.R*

        Fair enough. But as someone with a car who pays all the expenses associated with it, there’s a certain freedom to having your own car that makes the cost (sort of ) worthwhile. I’ve offered to drive people into work before, but because the majority of the cost of the commute is on me, I expect them to be on time, polite, and non-invasive. As soon as they ask me to pick them up from a far away location or call them when I arrive so they can come down to the lobby, and i have to wait an additional 5 mins, I get a bit annoyed. It’s a one-way favour even if the OP chips in gas.

        Consider also the obligation that if he suddenly wants to run errands after work or visit a friend, he has to drop you off first. It’s a big commitment!

        He should absolutely get off his phone, though. Where I live it’s illegal!

  18. OR*

    Would it be feasible to ask him to let you know if he will be leaving late by the time the bus would leave for you to make it to the event on time? In my experience, public transportation is never on time so switching back seems inefficient.

    1. The IT Manager*

      Here’s the tricky thing … if he’s running late texting or calling adds to his timeline.

  19. TL*

    OP, chipping in for gas every now and then is nice, but honestly, you should probably suggest paying a set amount/week rather than filling up occasionally. Filling up occasionally is a “thanks for the favor”, $20/week (or whatever) is a formal arrangement. (Also, keep in mind the driver is also paying for wear and tear, oil changes, ect…)

    Also, I’m a big believer in not getting in car with people who you think are dangerous drivers. It’s been a hard and fast rule for me all my life – if you don’t impress me the first time you drive me around, you’re not driving me around again. Cars are dangerous-why risk it?

    1. Anonymous*

      Yeah. Pretty much after the first time you observe that he won’t heed your no-phone-use advice, it’s on you to decide whether you will take what you see as a risk, as you know what his behavior will be. You can’t say, please stop doing what I don’t like but please continue to do me this favor.

    2. Anonymous*

      If she starts paying a set fee, does that mean he has to show up on time and stop using the phone, or is she just paying more money for the same problems?

  20. Employment lawyer*

    Buy him a Bluetooth headset as a present. A lot of the danger of cell phones comes from looking at another device–if you can do everything by feel with your eyes on the road, you are in much better shape. Texting is crazy though.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      It’s still distracting to talk on the phone; some places even ban the Bluetooth or hands-free options. It’s just better to not do it if you can avoid it, especially when you have someone else in your car.

      Okay, off the safety soapbox now.

      1. The IT Manager*

        I’ve heard that studies show that talking on on the phone even with a hands free device is more distracting, but …. people have been chatting with their passengers for years. Even if science supports it, it’s hard to internalize how talking hands-free is more dangerous than that. And parents have been driving around with their heads craned towards to backseat trying to keep their kids in line for years, are they ever cited for distracted driving? That has to be worse than talking on a cell phone even without a hands free device.

        1. TL*

          Talking to a passenger is less dangerous because (they theorize) you have 2-ish sets of eyes on the road.
          Talking on cell phones – more distracting and handsfree sets don’t improve the safety any.
          Texting while driving, though, is pretty much equivalent to driving drunk. (Studies show)

        2. Jamie*

          I haven’t read the studies – although I will – but I do wonder why talking hands free would be any worse than talking to a passenger in the car? With blue tooth it’s all voice – so I am interested in if there is a difference in safety stats in yammering at a device as opposed to a person.

          1. Kathryn in Finance*

            I have bluetooth in my car, and I’ve noticed that for some reason it is more distracting to talk on the hands-free phone than to have a passenger in the car. Maybe because a passenger is usually actively watching the road with you? I just rarely ever talk on the phone period, because A) I end up screaming at the car, because voice dialing is a pain, B) it is distracting, and C) I hate talking on the phone anyway.

            1. Anon for this*

              Interesting – although I don’t think the assumption that the passenger is in any way actively watching the road would hold up – at least in my life.

              If my husband is driving I’m glued to my iPad or phone – I just look up to criticize now and then and back to reading or whatever. Even if we’re talking I’m always fiddling with something. Even if I was watching the road I would assume by the time I could yell out it would be too late.

              I’m not doubting you – I’m sure actuaries have crunched the stats on this if it’s a thing…it just doesn’t make sense to me.

              1. Jamie*

                Ah – sorry – that was me…see, I told you I don’t cloak for secrecy – just search-ability. I’d be such a lousy spy…always forgetting to remove my disguises before coming home for dinner…

          2. fposte*

            As TL says, passengers offer a compensation as well as a distraction that phone conversationalists don’t. (And, of course, we limit passengers too in some cases, as in young drivers.)

            I’m less sure about this, but I thought that there was also theory that a real person was less psychologically distracting than somebody whose responses you’re largely having to mentally create yourself.

          3. Cruciatus*

            The studies I’ve read basically say that when you talk on the phone while driving it’s sort of tunnel vision for the ears. You gain “inattention blindness” and don’t see hazards or problems as quickly as you would otherwise (maybe not until too late). Listening to the radio or talking to a passenger is completely different because you’re in the here and now (and especially with a passenger, as someone said, they can react to what you’re seeing on the road too).

            1. Jamie*

              I think the science behind that is fascinating.

              I personally hate the phone so much I refused to use my blue tooth because I really love not having to answer it for the commute. Work knows I won’t answer so if it’s a super emergency they will call and not let it go to voice mail and immediately call again. So two calls in a row and I pull over.

              I really believe it’s because they know I pull over that they are reticent to call me in my car unless it’s an emergency. So that’s an added bonus.

          4. Rana*

            Based on my experiences with using a phone, it’s because I visually “zone out” when talking to someone who’s not there in a way I don’t when I’m talking to someone sitting next to or behind me. It’s especially bad if the reception or volume is weak, because then my brain tries even harder to compensate for it by tuning even more stuff out.

            The few times I’ve answered a phone in the car I’ve limited it to curtly stating “I’m in the car; I’ll call you back” because while I can talk on the phone without zoning, I cannot listen without some degree of loss of visual attention.

            (Books on tape can have the same effect, but there at least I don’t feel bad if I have to stop listening to deal with a problem.)

        3. doreen*

          I wish I’d see just one study that broke it out by the type of conversation. Because while I can understand why calling into a meeting or having any other serious conversation might be distracting enough to cause an accident, I find it hard to believe that calls that amount to ” I’ll be home in an hour” are any distraction at all.

  21. LovelyLibrarian*

    I haven’t made it through all the comments yet, but wanted to add a piece of tech that might help with the timing of their meetings. My boyfriend and I use “Twist”, an app for iphone or android, that alerts people when someone has left, what time they are estimated to arrive, and when they’re one minute away. It has practically saved our relationship as my “soon” is about 20minutes and his “soon” is about 2 hours! Perhaps the OP and her friend could use Twist to coordinate their morning meetups? Good luck!

    1. LovelyLibrarian*

      And to respond to the idea of “texting or calling when he’s late will just take up more of his time” – Twist is a one-button push and won’t take up extra time :)
      *NB: I’m not affiliated with the app, I just really like it!

  22. Hello Vino*

    Hmm, this is definitely a crappy situation, but I don’t think there’s much the OP can do. You’ve shared the story with this guy, and it hasn’t made a difference. It’s his car, so he’s going to do whatever he wants to do. It’s beyond your control, and there’s nothing else you can do, other than going back to riding public transportation.

    I carpooled with a coworker a couple years ago, and it ended up being more of a hassle than dealing with an hour+ commute. I would ride to a subway station near her place, and she would pick me up from there. When I asked her how much she would like me to chip in, she only asked me to pay for the tolls (which really surprised me).

    A month later, she came back to me saying I wasn’t paying enough and named an arbitrary number. I suggested we figure out how far out of the way she was traveling to pick me up/drop me off. Turns out there was another subway station much closer to her place. Instead of looking up actual distances, she based on it all on “how long the drive felt”. Once we knew the exact mileage, we were able to make a better decision on how much I should pay.

    Next, this coworker developed a habit of working late to make up for all her goofing off during the day. We would leave the office anywhere between 5:00pm – 7:30pm, and I had no control over it since she was driving. I ended up taking the bus/train home almost every evening and asked her if we could adjust how much I paid since I was only riding with her in the mornings. She said that would be too complicated to figure out. I soon went back to taking the bus/train both ways. To avoid awkwardness, I told her I had yoga classes in the evenings.

    1. Maire*

      I’m not sure that I agree with the basing how much you pay on how far out of the way she has to drive to get you.
      You are still going the rest of the way so why shouldn’t you have to pay half of that?

      1. Jamie*

        I agree – and this sounded kind of adversarial. Sometimes people offer a favor being well intentioned and it ends up being more inconvenient than anticipated.

        When things get this complicated it’s usually best to just call it off sooner rather than later.

      2. Hello Vino*

        Hmm, I should clarify… I wasn’t just paying for the extra distance she had to drive. She named a random number, and I wanted to make sure it covered the entire journey and how far out of the way she had to go. She previously underestimated, so I suggested we look things up on Google maps.

  23. Ed*

    This is why I would never participate in a car pool arrangement. I’m perpetually late (which my boss doesn’t mind because I do a lot of off-hours work, stay late, work through lunch, etc) but it wouldn’t be fair to the other people. Plus, I can’t stand be tied to other people for what time I go home.

  24. Jamie*

    I know I’m being total pedantic and I hate this part of me – but we need another word other than carpool for these kind of situations.

    Carpool for me indicates a built in reciprocity because the driving is being shared. If you don’t have a car to pool, as it were, then it’s just getting a ride.

    1. Andrea*

      I don’t think you’re being pedantic. It seems like folks have different interpretations of what a carpool is.

    2. The B*

      We call it rideshare where I live.

      We have a carpool/rideshare arrangement at work. It’s an organized thing where either a van picks us up (like 5 different people, the van is organized through our job) or you sign up through an electronic system to get a ride from someone else. It can work very well for people who have a car because you pay a set parking and gas fee every month, so they can end up getting “free” gas, insurance and parking. I used to do this with a co-worker who drove by my house (she lives a few blocks away) and it worked beautifully. She’s now on mat leave and I’m on public transit, but it’s awesome.

      However, it was a well-organized thing. I wouldn’t feel comfortable chipping in “now and then” for gas and expecting reliable transportation.

  25. Heather*

    OP – no advice, but did your friend’s school have the initials MC? Because if so, that’s where I went and my cousin graduated the year this happened.

    Your friend is completely amazing.

  26. Jane*

    If you a looking for an “out” for the lift share, you need something that won’t cause future tension.

    “I don’t want a lift because I think you are a dangerous driver” is going to make you both uncomfortable, so can you find a reason that makes public transport sound like a better option? E.g. “It’s great getting a lift with you, but I’d like to be able to stop off at the gym in the way home, so I think I’ll start getting the bus” or “I never get my book finished for book group, and I can’t read in cars, so I’m going to start getting the train”.

  27. Tinker*

    I don’t consider it a big deal worthy of a lot of concessions to give someone a ride. However, although I wouldn’t be mean about it, I’d be put out if doing someone that favor resulted in receiving an uninvited critique on my driving — they wouldn’t know what my driving was like to ride me about it were I not giving them a ride, after all. And that’s independent of the driving practices involved.

    I’d move on, were I the OP.

  28. Anonymous*

    Ever heard of “beggars can’t be choosers?” This is NOT a carpool. You’re getting a ride. He is doing you a FAVOR. Did you ever think that maybe he’d rather just not have to worry about making an extra stop in the morning, talk to his daughter in peace, and enjoy some alone time in the car before and after a stressful day of work. You’re a fabulous example of what’s wrong with modern society: feeling entitled to the kindness/handouts of others and then complaining when the handout isn’t completely ideal for you. Get a car, take the bus, or deal with the ride that you’re lucky to have.

    1. Anonymously Anonymous*

      I was going to post the same thing ‘beggars can’t be choosers’.
      She wants to change his behavior to benefit her, when the only behavior she can truly change is hers by waking up a little earlier and taking 1.5 hour commute on public transit or buy a car.
      Sorry if it sounds harsh.

    2. OP*

      Wow. I didn’t know I was what’s wrong with society because I’ve been thanking him, chipping in for gas, sharing friendly conversation, and quietly worrying about his driving safety when he uses his phone. And since he is the person who initiated the ride sharing, and doesn’t go out of his way, I doubt he is cursing me under his breath, but good to know I’m ruining modern society. :)

      1. khilde*

        Yeah, wow, that was a bit over the top on Anon’s part.

        Count me in the camp that does not think you’re being unreasonable, but also that you’re probably in a situation that won’t change. So you need to change your own situation, I guess.

        I am a defensive driving instructor and am a CRAZY control freak about driving. I don’t like riding with people anyway – even those that are good drivers. So I would have a hard time continuing riding with him especially since you’ve brought up the safety topic and it didn’t seem to register with him.

        It sucks, but I agree with Alison and others that you’re at the point where you have to weigh which factor is more important: the convenience you get from riding with your coworker or a longer commute where the two issues you cited would be less problematic? Good luck.

  29. Nicole*

    A lot of these comments are focused on either a) whether or not using the phone while driving is safe and b) whether or not the driver is being rude, but that’s not really the question at all. The question is what the OP can do about it, and I agree with Allison – not much. OP has already made it clear to the driver that the phone usage is a problem, and he’s continuing to use it. It’s time for the OP to either accept that he probably won’t change or find a new way to get to work.

  30. sour than sweet*

    This reminds me of high school/college. Whoever owns the car dictates the rules.

    OP, I don’t know your reasons for not owning a car (which I know there’s a million why someone doesn’t). But maybe it’s something to look into? I bought myself my first car, a total POS I lovingly call, “Clunker,” ’cause I was getting to school later every day waiting for my lil sister to get ready. Then I brought my car to college with me since the bus system was horrendously unreliable.

    The freedom to come and go as I please and not having to rely on anyone was worth all the costs. In your case, since there’s such a huge safety issue (my state doesn’t allow cell phone use either), if I were you I’d rather start checking out audiobooks from the library and prepare myself for a 1.5 hour commute. :)

    1. sour than sweet*

      That should have been, “I was TIRED OF getting to school LATE every day…”

      There’s a time difference with the timestamps…it’s only midnight where I live. I have no excuse for this many typos!

  31. VictoriaHR*

    I think it’s a little odd that the OP is taking it personally that the driver didn’t change his ways after hearing the OP’s friend’s story. The only thing that you can change is how YOU react to things; you can’t change other people’s behavior and you’ll only drive yourself crazy trying.

    He’s doing it for free, either suck it up and deal or change how you get to/from work.

    Perhaps when you tell him you won’t be riding with him any more because you’ve been getting to work late and don’t feel safe in his car, he’ll offer to do better. But you’ll probably burn that bridge.

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