Are You Ready to Start Carpooling? Think it Through…
Editor’s note: We’re big fans of carpooling, ridesharing, and other forms of group vehicle use. But that doesn’t mean it’s always the easy choice… so we’re grateful for this guest post on some of the realities of carpooling.
There are many benefits of carpooling. Sharing a ride to work or school reduces the number of cars on the road, which is good for the environment. When you share the cost of gas with one or two other people, you pay much less for your commute. Carpooling is a good way to reduce the mileage on your car, which in turn can create significant car insurance savings. A driver with passengers can access the faster HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes offered in many cities. As positive an experience as carpooling can be, however, there are some negatives to consider before you commit to a daily carpool.
Loss of Independence
When you share a ride with one, two or three other people, only one of you on any given day will have your own car at work or school. That means there will be many times when you will be stuck where you are until it is time to carpool home again. Sometimes the people you carpool with will need to stay at work a little later, which means you will have to stay at work a little later too. If you like the freedom of choosing when you go and when you stay, carpooling might be a frustrating experience.
It is much easier to get along with everyone at work or at school when you talk to them for only a few minutes during a break, while you are working on projects or maybe over lunch. Sitting in an enclosed space with them to and from work is a different thing. You might be surprised by commuter friends’ annoying habits, or the music the driver insists on playing during the drive. Riders might like to chatter all the way to work, which can be irritating if you don’t like to talk much in the morning. Choose your carpooling group carefully.
Most carpools switch drivers every week. That means there will be a week when you will be expected to drive a car full of people to and from work daily. Are you ready for potential coffee stains or crumbs from someone’s half-eaten breakfast toast on your upholstery? You will also need to keep your car’s interior completely cleared out during the time when you are the driver. If you like to stretch your arms and legs in your car, carpooling might be a little uncomfortable.
When you are the carpool driver, you are responsible for any injuries that occur as the result of an accident. Make sure your insurance covers damages and medical bills if you are the driver in a carpooling accident. Driving on a regular basis might mean increasing your auto insurance coverage so you and your carpool friends are protected. If you’re not ready to adjust your insurance, you might not be ready to hit the carpooling lane just yet.
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