Stop Traffic and Carpool Today!


Commuting is an unfortunate reality for many people. It puts excess wear and tear on the vehicles that people drive and is a great source of daily stress. In addition to how it affects people, commuting also negatively impacts the environment. Carpooling is a simple solution for many of these problems. It is defined as two or more people sharing a single vehicle. Also known as ridesharing, carpooling began back in the 1940s during World War II. It was actively promoted by the government to help reduce the use of oil. In the many advertisements of the time, carpooling was promoted as a way to fight Hitler and help win the war. Emphasis on carpooling returned in the 1970s during the Energy Crisis. During this time, ridesharing was for the first time promoted as a way to improve air quality. Although carpooling has declined since the 70s, it has begun to increase as a means of alternate transportation. Today, traveling with multiple passengers per car is touted as an alternative transportation method and a way to decrease pollution and combat global warming.

Personal Benefits of Carpooling

There are many benefits associated with carpooling. The most obvious benefit is the savings at the pump. Because more than one person is contributing to the cost of gas, much less is coming out of the driver's pocket. Another benefit is the reduction of stress that comes from daily driving. Driving responsibilities are typically divided up amongst the rideshare participants. On the days when a person does not have to drive, he or she can literally leave the driving to someone else. This leaves time for socializing with fellow passengers, reading or simply relaxing.

Why Is It Important

Carpooling is important in terms of the environment. With a majority of people owning cars, the number of vehicles on the road during high traffic can be astounding. In fact, there are so many cars on the road that roughly 25 percent of air pollution and 28 percent of the energy consumption in the U.S. comes from transportation alone. The more vehicles on the road, the greater the amount of exhaust and other poisonous gases released into the atmosphere. These chemicals emitted by cars helps to create a layer of ground level ozone which causes smog. Simply by participating in carpool, a single person can prevent 225 pounds of emissions on a yearly basis. If ridesharing only once a week, a person can save 1,200 miles on his or her vehicle. Even when compared to a single driver driving a hybrid vehicle, carpooling with multiple passengers in a non-hybrid vehicle is the better option for the environment.

Types of Carpools

There are several variations of carpooling that have surfaced over the years. Traditional carpooling involves a passenger vehicle with an occupancy of two to four people. There may be a designated driver who offers to drive his or her vehicle in exchange for a fee that helps cover gas, parking fees, and any maintenance that is needed. Alternating carpools are rideshares where each person that participates must drive according to a set schedule. The schedule may require driving on certain days of the week, alternating weeks, or alternating months. Some companies offer vanpooling as a form of ridesharing. Vanpooling is the same as carpooling except a larger vehicle, typically a van, is used to transport a larger group of people to and from their place of work.

Slugging is a form of casual carpooling that currently only takes place in certain cities. Slugging is a combination of carpooling and hitchhiking. People stand in what is called a slugging line and can accept rides from commuters who are virtual strangers to them. This type of carpooling is free of cost to the “slugger.” It benefits the driver by allowing him or her to use the carpool, or high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane which is typically less congested than other lanes on the road. Real time ridesharing, or dynamic carpooling, is one-time carpooling that is arranged courtesy of technology such as social networks or smartphone apps.

Carpool Tips and Etiquette

When participating in a carpool, there are several ways to enjoy the experience and avoid conflicts with the driver or others in the car. Driving responsibilities or payment schedules should be determined before the first ride is shared. This will eliminate any confusion or tension and everyone will know what is expected. A plan should be in place in the event that the driver is not available on a given day. Everyone involved should be aware that there is a backup plan and what it involves. Members should always be on time. In the event that a person is late, there should be a set time for how long the car will wait before leaving. The person who is running late should make every effort to contact the group and let them know how late he or she will be. Establish or ask if there are any rules about drinking coffee or eating in the car. Members of the carpool should respect that the driver is sharing his or her personal vehicle and should make efforts to keep it clean. If slugging, learn the proper slugging etiquette. Some of the basic slugging rules include not talking unless the driver initiates conversation, and no eating, makeup application, or drinking is allowed.