Carpooling: What is it and why should we be doing it?

4 minutes

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With the rising cost of living, and our responsibility to reduce our impact on the environment, could it be time to carpool?

  • Carpooling could decrease the number of cars on the road and reduce traffic
  • Carpooling can be set up with anyone heading the same direction as you
  • Carpooling could see a huge 20% decrease in pollution produced by cars 

Have you ever considered how absurd it is for people travelling in the same direction to be sitting in the same traffic jam, all alone, while consuming fuel? Or, have you ever arrived at the office car park at the same time as your neighbour, who you could have picked up along the way (and split the cost of fuel with)?

Well, if you have, then maybe it’s time to consider carpooling. Here’s why we think it’s a great idea…


What is carpooling?


No, it doesn’t have anything to do with swimming… or karaoke!


Whether you call it ride-sharing, car-sharing, or lift-sharing, the idea behind carpooling is the idea that sharing car journeys,  can help people travel from A to B together, to reduce the number of cars on the road – and use less petrol, too. 


Did you know: Brits travelled 580 billion kilometres in 2020, 92% of those were travelled by people in cars, vans or taxis. And not only that, figures from the UK Government show that the vehicle occupancy rate (the number of seats used in cars or vans), across the UK in 2021 was 1.1 person per vehicle (despite the average car having at least four passenger seats), and when it comes to commuting, 89% of journeys made in 2021 were by lone drivers.


These days it’s hard to ignore the environmental impact as well as the ever-increasing cost of vehicles and of course, petrol,especially if you’re travelling solo multiple times a week. Not to mention that it can also be really lonely driving by yourself!


That’s where carpooling comes in. Carpooling can be super informal and can beset up between friends, neighbours or colleagues who are heading in the same direction. 


If you don’t have a good carpooling option from the circle of people around you, local authorities and organisations have set up more formal carpooling arrangements. So, what are you waiting for?Get involved and give it a go!


Can carpooling help my environmental footprint?


It’s safe to say that one of the best perks of carpooling is that during peak times, lift sharing between people fills up seats in cars and decreases the total number of trips taken. You know what that means?Less cars on the road, less traffic jams, and getting home a lot quicker. 


Not only this, but by filling all five seats in a car, there could be a huge 20% decrease in pollution produced by cars on the road. The UK Government reports that increasing car occupancy for all journeys, from the current average levels of 1.55 people per vehicle to 1.7, could save an enormous 3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission per by 2030. This would bring yearly emissions from cars roughly to the same level as emissions from UK buses!


And the environmental benefits of carpooling don’t stop there. Other than reducing carbon emissions, decreasing the number of car journeys also has a positive impact on the air quality in your area. 


Not only will carpooling stop you from sitting in traffic jams, you get to breathe cleaner air on your quicker journey - a great thing to know on those sunny days with your windows down! 


Is carpooling sociable?


We’ve all experienced that mind-numbing boredom that comes when you’ve been stuck in a traffic jam for what feels like two hours when actually it’s only been two minutes. Often the radio is playing a song you can’t stand and your leg has started to cramp because you haven’t moved - in ages


But as the age old saying goes, time flies when you're having fun and carpooling provides the perfect opportunity to spend your car journey chatting, ranting or gossiping … or singing along with your passengers, whatever you’d prefer. 


Not sold yet? How about this… One of the best parts about carpooling is that it allows individuals to share the strain. Whether that’s chatting about a difficult day, sharing light conversation - or just sharing the load when it comes to driving.


Some seasoned carpoolers notice that they’re a better driver with another person in the car, because they take on the responsibility for that individual's safety and comfort. Sharing a car journey can often be much safer than going alone, particularly when it comes to long distances. 

If you’re new to a community, have you thought about carpooling?


If you're new to a community, carsharing might be a great way to meet new people and make friends. 


Carpooling gives you the perfect excuse to explore the roads of your new local area with a neighbour by your side. Carpooling meeting points are often in central locations or train and bus stops, so you’ll quickly familiarise yourself with all the essential spots near your new home.  


Your fellow carpoolers can also be a great source of information, so you’ll learn all those handy shortcuts to save that extra five minutes on your journey. And you never know, even if you’ve lived somewhere for years, someone might hop in your car and be able to teach you a thing or two. 



Does carpooling save money? 


With the cost of living crisis and fuel prices at an all-time high we’re all looking to save money where we can. It’s no surprise that 67% of respondents in the National Travel Survey stated that lift sharing would be cheaper than travelling alone, so carpooling is a fantastic solution to reducing travel costs. 


If several employees from your work place live close to one another and all have cars, it’s well worth getting together to share driving. For example, if four of you carpool, it could work out that you only need to drive to work one in every four weeks, or once a week depending how you split the trips (ker-ching!).


As well as saving on petrol, you could be sharing the load when it comes to toll payments and parking fees, too. This is just another way that carpooling can reduce your commuting costs. 


It’s not just the daily costs of commuting that you can save on either. By joining a carpool, you’re less likely to use your own vehicle every day, which could minimise wear and tear - but remember, your car still needs to be insured and have regular MOTs.

How to make carpooling work for you…


Before you begin, you should know that carpooling does require a touch of compromise, but with the savings to your bank account, the benefits to the environment and the chance to have some great fun, it’s worth it.


Here are some top tips for making it work for you…


First step: Our top tip is to join a carpool that already exists or create one if you don’t have one taking place near you.  A great way to start is by asking your employer whether they have a carpool in place or a way to connect commuters travelling in the same direction.


Talk to your neighbours and friends about introducing a new car-sharing system to go to the local shops or drop the kids off at school. Alternatively, using neighbourhood notice boards and social media is a great way to spread the word.


Not got a group of friends or colleagues to carpool with yet? Don’t worry. With the UK government’s toolkit for lift sharing, many local authorities have set up their own schemes. Try getting in contact with your local government to see if there’s one available near you to join.


Top tip: Keep it light hearted. Someone being late is bound to happen, but take the stress out of the situation beforehand. Try having a rule that if anyone is more than 15 minutes late, they have to bring baked goods or sweets for the whole car the next day. Having a little (and tasty) punishment can ease the strain of annoyance experienced.


Be truthful:  If you're behind on a project at work, staying two hours later to car share might be a lifesaver, but if the schedule for sharing isn't convenient for you, don't force it. To increase your chances of discovering a compatible car sharing partner, join a national network.


School year: The start of the school year can be a great time to start a carpool, as it signals the return of busy days and packed schedules for mums and dads. When the kids need to be taken here, there and everywhere, carpooling can help the day run a little smoother. And if you’re a one car household, it’s a great way for both parents to make it to work on time. 


However, if you’re carpooling with children in tow, it is important to make sure they are properly secured. Knowing if a child needs a car seat, booster seat or seat belt is essential to ensure they are properly restrained and a car journey is safe for all.


Be prepared: Make sure you have a back-up plan in place in case something goes wrong, as even the best-made plans can occasionally be derailed by unforeseen circumstances like illness or a flat tyre. 


Get a group chat going:  Making sure you’re connected and can get in touch with your fellow carpoolers means you are less likely to show up when someone no longer needs a lift. 


And finally, don’t forget to be safe. It’s essential to use caution when choosing who you carpool with. Always follow your instincts and take precautions, such as verifying the identity of people you don't know. 


Does car insurance cover carpooling?


Whether you’re a driver or a passenger, breaking down along the way may occasionally happen. Being covered as a driver or passenger in any car, at any time, is a great way to protect yourself against the hassle of breaking down. 


And if the worst happens, our Britannia Rescue breakdown service can save you and your carpool and get you back on the road as swiftly as possible. 


So, whether you carpool every day, or this is the first time you’ve heard of it, the reduced travel costs, decreased congestion and cleaner air make carpooling a no brainer.


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