Having your nanny or other caregiver drive your kids to school or soccer practice can be helpful for busy parents. While it's great to have someone else available to help, you and your child’s caregiver must be on the same page about driving safety.
Discussing expectations and the rules a caregiver should follow when your kids are in the car can save everyone pain and confusion. In this guide, learn how to ensure your caregiver is a good driver, what rules to set, and what kind of car insurance you need to confirm that your family is protected, no matter who’s driving the car.
- Determine if your caregiver is a good driver
- Set ground rules for caregivers transporting your kids
- Decide whether caregivers will drive your car or theirs
- Make sure you have adequate auto insurance coverage
- Keep helpful items in your car
- Have an emergency plan
- Bottom line: The most important things to know for caregivers to drive kids safely
Determine if your caregiver is a good driver
Whether you’re interviewing a new nanny or a family member is picking up the kids to help out, knowing that they're a safe driver is crucial.
Get their driving record
You likely have driven with family members before and know firsthand whether you trust them behind the wheel. If you have concerns about their driving record, discuss those with the person to see what steps they’ve taken to improve.
It can be trickier to judge driving competency with a prospective employee, like a nanny or babysitter.
If you’re looking into hiring someone full or part-time to help out, you likely know to do a background check before trusting them with your kids. As part of that process, you can also request that the potential caregiver provide a copy of their driving record with their references or other documents.
Due to privacy laws in most states, you likely can’t request someone else’s driving record directly. Instead, ask them to provide a copy of their Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) along with their references.
Potential employees can request a copy of their MVR from their local DMV office for a small fee. MVRs may vary by state, but the report will likely contain:
- The driver’s full name
- Date of birth
- Driver’s license number, classification status, and expiration date
- Any DUIs, traffic citations, and license suspensions
- Any accidents reports
- Points against their license, if your state uses a point system
The report will not contain information about non-moving violations like parking tickets or any non-driving-related criminal history, so you still need to request a standard background check for that information.
Ask for references
As part of the interview process, ask the babysitter to provide formal references and to briefly detail their work for each family, noting any driving duties they performed.
Then, call the references to confirm the person performed the duties listed. While you might be uncomfortable calling someone you don’t know, remember that it’s essential to get a complete view of the person applying for the job.
As part of your conversation with the other parent, ask how much driving the babysitter did for them and how comfortable the parent was with the caregiver’s driving abilities. You can also inquire about any driving incidents, like accidents or speeding tickets, while the person worked for the family, and how the caregiver handled the situation.
Do a ride-along
The MVR report and references will give you a good look into a person’s past driving record, but you’ll need to take a drive with them to understand how the person handles a vehicle.
If you have a vehicle available for them to use instead of their own car, ask them to test drive it with you. The potential caregiver can get a feel for the vehicle, and you can see how they negotiate traffic and distractions.
If your child uses a car or booster seat, show the person how to safely install it and then watch while they practice it repeatedly.
On the ride-along, show the person various routes they might take as part of their duties, like going to a local grocery store, park, restaurants, or other places they might frequent. Be cautious about driving the route to your child's school or showing them the way to another child's house if you haven’t completed the background check and offered the job to this person.
Set ground rules for caregivers transporting your kids
Regardless of who will be driving your kids — a friend, a family member, or someone else whose duties could include driving — it's important to have driving ground rules.
Discuss the rules with the adult caregiver and give them a chance to ask clarifying questions. Then, with the caregiver present, discuss the rules with your kids, so they know how to behave in the car.
10 important driving rules
1. No texting
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 48 states have laws banning texting while driving — and for good reason. Make it crystal clear that texting while driving will not be tolerated.
2. Don’t take phone calls
Talking on the phone while driving is prohibited in only 24 states, but make sure your caregiver knows that their primary focus is getting from point A to point B as safely and distraction-free as possible and that talking while driving should only be used in emergencies.
3. Don’t speed or drive aggressively
Everyone runs late occasionally, but speeding can lead to losing control of the car and taking longer to stop. If a car accident occurs, the severity may be worse if one or both vehicles are speeding, potentially leading to more severe injuries.
4. Come to complete stops
Stop signs are often placed at intersections with limited visibility. Make sure your babysitter knows to come to a complete stop and checks all directions before proceeding.
5. Avoid distractions from the kids
Kids make noise, and if you aren’t used to driving with them you might easily take your eyes off the road to see what they’re doing in the back seat. Remind your sitter that if the kids are causing a distraction, pull over in a safe location before dealing with the situation.
6. Pay attention to weather conditions
Road conditions can change quickly, and being familiar with driving in wet or icy conditions is essential. Discuss how comfortable your sitter is driving in bad weather and when it's okay to stay home due to inclement weather.
7. Don’t drive if you’re sleepy
We all have days where we’re exhausted, but driving while sleep deprived can lead to accidents or injuries. Make sure your caregiver understands how dangerous driving while tired is, and talk about why it's important to avoid being out late or pulling an all-nighter and then driving the kids to school.
8. Always wear seat belts and put kids in car seats or booster seats
It can be tempting not to worry about seat belts when you’re just going around the block, but making sure the kids are properly buckled into a car seat or seat belt is vital.
If car seats are involved, have your caregiver practice buckling and unbuckling the child under your supervision until you’re satisfied they know what to do.
9. No unauthorized passengers
Giving a ride to your friends is nice, but make sure your babysitter knows that when they’re driving your car, the only people allowed in the vehicle are the kids or other passengers authorized by you. Not only is another person a potential distraction, but if an unauthorized person is in the car during an accident, it could create multiple problems with insurance and liability.
10. Never leave children alone in the car
Car temperatures can rise quickly, even in moderate temperatures. Never, ever leave a child (or pet) alone in the car, even if you’re only running into the store for a second. Ensure your caregiver understands the potential dangers and explicitly state that they are never allowed to leave the kids unsupervised in the car.
Use technology to monitor driving
Installing a GPS tracker or telematic device in the car can be an excellent way to keep an eye on where your babysitter is going and how the vehicle is being used. Using a GPS device might also lower your car insurance premium since being able to track the vehicle if it's stolen can help the police recover it faster.
If you install a GPS or other tracking device in your car, let the caregiver know what it is and the information it collects. If you have a formal contract with the person, include a section for written acknowledgment of the tracking device in the vehicle so they know their actions are being monitored.
GPS units can be expensive, and you might be tempted to throw an Apple AirTag into a backseat pocket or glove compartment. While that can work for a time, AirTags and other devices like them are not intended to keep track of moving objects and may provide delayed information. GPS devices are designed to show you real-time information.
Use a contract to help set rules and expectations on transportation
If you are hiring a nanny or babysitter who will drive your kids, it's a good idea to have a written contract outlining the terms of their employment.
In addition to outlining general job duties, compensation, and time off, you can also detail your expectations for driving the kids. Include the rules you have already discussed with them. If you’re using a tracking device to monitor the car, ask them to acknowledge it within the contract documents.
Detail any restrictions you’ve placed on using the car, like not driving at night or only using the vehicle for kid-related activities. This is also an excellent place to document any limitations you’ve decided on regarding where the caregiver can take the kids, like only back and forth to school or a friend's house, with an option to update the list as necessary.
If your caregiver will use their car, detail the insurance requirements they need to maintain and keep a copy of their insurance information with your other employment documents.
Decide whether caregivers will drive your car or theirs
Which car the caregiver will use can be a significant decision. Both situations have pros and cons, and the final decision will ultimately be what works best for you, the caregiver, and your kids.
Pros and cons of them driving your car
In the best-case scenario, you’ll have an extra vehicle available that your caregiver can use.
- Parents may have newer cars which means the vehicle has more safety features and has less chance of breaking down.
- As the owner, you can maintain complete control over vehicle maintenance and ensure the car is safe.
- If your kids are still in car seats, you can also be sure the seats are correctly installed, and you won't have to worry about transferring them to another vehicle every day.
- You can decide when and how the vehicle is used.
- Providing a car for someone else to use means covering the expense of purchasing another vehicle and licensing it.
- Insurance can get more complicated, and you’ll need to decide if you will add the caregiver to your insurance policy, which might increase your premium, depending on their age and driving history.
- If you give up a car to let the caregiver use it, you may have to find alternate means to get to work or run errands.
Pros and cons of them driving their own car
If you don’t want the expense of an additional vehicle or can’t afford one, the caregiver may be open to using their car.
- You don’t have to pay for an extra vehicle or give up your commute vehicle.
- You won’t need to add the caregiver as an additional driver on your insurance.
- You don’t have control over the car’s age or upkeep. Ask the caregiver to confirm that the vehicle has passed all safety checks and request updated maintenance records every quarter.
- You’ll have to reimburse the caregiver for mileage and gas. The national rate for mileage in 2023 is 65.5 cents per mile, which applies to electric and gasoline vehicles.
- You’ll need to ensure the caregiver has adequate insurance to cover potential medical expenses if your kids are hurt while in the caregiver's car.
- Depending on the vehicle's age and condition, the caregiver might be uncomfortable driving in certain situations or distances.
- If your child uses a car seat, it might not fit in the nanny’s car and must be transferred and reinstalled daily.
Make sure you have adequate auto insurance coverage
The right type of insurance coverage is vital to ensuring your family is safe while driving.
Each state differs on the minimum coverage you’re required to maintain. Most states require liability coverage, which covers property damage or medical bills of the other person in an accident you cause. Some states also require additional coverage like personal injury protection and uninsured/underinsured motorist.
Experts generally agree that it's a good idea to have more than the minimum requirement in liability insurance so that your personal assets, like a home or retirement accounts, are protected if you injure someone else in an accident.
If you lease or finance a car, the terms of your contract or loan will likely require you to maintain certain levels of collision and comprehensive coverage. These policies cover the damages caused due to an accident or events outside your control, like a fire, flood, or lightning.
Maintaining comprehensive and collision coverage after your loan is paid off can be worth it if your car is valued above a few thousand dollars or you can’t afford to pay for damages out of pocket.
The coverage you maintain is up to you but work with your insurance provider to help you decide how much to keep and that it at least covers the current value of the car.
3 types of coverage it’s important to consider for child caregivers
Adding additional coverage options to your base policy can help protect you from significant repairs or medical bills if you provide a car for a caregiver.
Consider adding the following policies:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP): PIP coverage is similar to medical payments insurance and will cover the medical bills of you or your passenger. PIP policies may also cover additional items like lost wages, funeral expenses, or assistance services if you can’t work after an accident. Not all states allow PIP insurance, and the coverage limits can vary based on state requirements.
- Roadside assistance: Adding roadside assistance insurance coverage through a provider like AAA can help you escape a tricky situation if you have kids in the car. Depending on your insurance carrier, roadside assistance service can include towing, fuel delivery, battery jump-start, battery charging for electric vehicles, locksmith service, and tire changes, among other benefits.
- Non-resident driver coverage: Some car insurance companies offer coverage specifically for people who don’t live with you but that you may allow to drive your car. Other companies will cover a driver with your permission to drive the vehicle, also called a permissive user. It can get complicated, so check with your insurance agent about the best policy for your situation.
How does auto insurance work for nannies and babysitters?
Although the coverage may stay the same, having a nanny or babysitter drive a car that you own can get a little complicated.
If they’re not on your policy
Your insurance will likely still cover an accident where a nanny or babysitter not listed on the policy was driving, as long as the person has your permission to use the vehicle.
Car insurance generally follows the car, not the driver, so even though they aren’t listed on the policy, the caregiver may be classified as a permissive user, meaning they had your permission to use the vehicle.
While the insurance company will likely cover damages when a permissive user is driving, it could be a gray area. Whether or not your insurer will cover damages in a specific scenario depends on the state where you live, your particular policy language, and the damage sustained.
For caregivers using their vehicles, confirm that they have enough liability coverage to take care of any medical bills for any injury your kids might sustain while driving in their car. The caregiver should also have coverage for uninsured or underinsured motorists and a PIP policy to cover any extra medical bills.
Even though the caregiver is driving their own car, you may also want to talk to your insurance provider about adding additional liability coverage to protect you if the caregiver is in an accident while on the clock under your employment.
How it works if you add them to your policy as a non-resident driver
The insurance company is more likely to cover an accident involving a listed driver. If the nanny or babysitter doesn’t live with you, they will likely be classified as a non-resident driver on the policy.
Note that adding a driver to a policy can increase your insurance premium based on the person's driving record and age, especially if they’re under age 25 or have a spotty driving record.
When adding your nanny or babysitter to the policy, the insurance company will likely need the person’s:
- Full name
- Driver’s license information
- A brief driving history
Keep helpful items in your car
Being prepared is not just for the Boy Scouts. Make sure that anyone driving your car, including you, has the supplies they need if they get stranded.
Create an auto emergency kit that can live in the truck of the car and include items that will help keep everyone safe, like:
- First aid kit
- Water and non-perishable snacks
- Phone chargers and a battery pack
- Change of clothing for the kids
- Diapers or disposable underwear for young kids
- LED flashlight and extra batteries
- A blanket
- Traffic triangles
- Safety vest for visibility
- An umbrella and ponchos
- Jumper cables
- A portable battery
- Spare tire, jack, and wheel wrench
- Duct tape
- A small fire extinguisher
Consider getting a roadside assistance membership like AAA, or add a roadside assistance rider to your auto insurance so that you’ll have help if a tire goes flat or the battery dies.
Other items to have on hand:
- Emergency credit card or prepaid debit so the driver can pay for gas or an emergency repair if they don’t have a wallet or cash available.
- List of important phone numbers, including insurance and roadside assistance
- Puzzle or activity books and crayons or colored pencils to keep kids busy
- Shovel and kitty litter for traction if driving on snow and ice
- Chains for driving in mountains or heavy snow
- Snow scraper and de-icer windshield fluid
- A shovel
- Gloves and hats
- Extra blankets
If you live in an isolated area or a climate prone to sudden weather changes, keep a bin or bag in the trunk of your car at all times. Create a fall/winter and spring/summer bin with appropriate seasonal items. Review the containers quarterly to replace used or expired items.
Have an emergency plan
Even minor fender benders can be traumatic, especially if children are involved. Talk with your caregiver about the best way to handle a minor accident.
- Assess the situation: Ensure that there isn’t any immediate danger and that no smoke or flames are coming from the vehicle.
- Ensure everyone is OK: Take stock of everyone in the car. Is anyone injured or bleeding? Is everyone conscious? If someone is hurt, call 911 right away.
- Move the car to the shoulder or a safe location: If you are able to, move the vehicle out of the traffic path to prevent being hit again.
- Call the police to report the accident: If no one was hurt, it is generally recommended to call the non-emergency police line to report an accident. Keep a card in the glove box with your area’s nonemergency number and other important information.
- Call you or your partner: Not only will you and your partner want to know about the situation immediately, but your kids will likely be rattled after an accident. Getting to speak with a parent can make them (and you) feel better, and you can help manage the situation or head to the accident site if needed.
- Keep an insurance card in the car: Your babysitter or caregiver will likely need to exchange insurance information with the other driver. Make sure to keep a copy of an insurance card in the vehicle so the babysitter can exchange information with the other driver.
- Document the accident: Ask your caregiver to take pictures of the damage and document the scene for the insurance company.
Make sure to get a police reportDon’t avoid calling the police since you will likely need a police report to file a claim with your insurance provider.
Establish other points of contact if you can’t be reached
If you or your partner are unavailable during an emergency, have backup options for the caregiver to call.
Having contact information for grandparents, aunts, uncles, or close family friends who can respond to a situation can help comfort the kids and make sure your best interests are represented.
Keep a list of important names and phone numbers in the car, or consider using an online cloud account for family information and documents that you can share with a caregiver.
Give them access to the kids’ health insurance info
Ensure your caregiver has a copy of your child's health insurance card and their doctor's office's name and phone number. It's also a good idea to have the name and phone number of a nearby hospital and a list of any medications your child takes in case of a hospital visit.
Keeping this information in a family binder at home helps keep everyone organized, but having this information in the car or the cloud gives your caregiver the information they need immediately in an emergency.
Bottom line: The most important things to know for caregivers to drive kids safely
Having someone you trust pick your kids up from school or take them to sports or after-school activities can save you time and energy, but you and the caregiver must be on the same page.
Remember these eight most important things:
- Establish driving rules and communicate them.
- Decide which car the caregiver will drive and any limitations about when or where to drive.
- Maintain the vehicle and keep good maintenance records.
- Get adequate insurance coverage and consider adding the caregiver as a non-resident driver to your auto policy.
- Assemble a car emergency kit.
- Create a plan and contact list in case of accidents or emergencies.
- Keep vital information the caregiver might need in a central location and consider keeping copies online for quick access away from home.
- Have ongoing conversations with the caregiver about expectations and essential safety reminders.
Keeping open communication with anyone who cares for your kids can make it easier to keep them safe and help you sleep easier at night.