Car sharing

More and more people care passionately about the environment, and know that their driving habits are part of the global problem. As a driver or passenger, have you ever thought of doing something radical such as joining a car sharing scheme to lower your personal carbon footprint? It could be a great way to save you money and help the environment.

So, how does it work? The idea behind car sharing is that both the person driving and the passengers benefit in one way or another. Ideally, they should benefit equally. The people in the car could share the fuel costs, or agree a mileage rate, which is based on recommended rates from the driver’s employer, or professional association.

Fortunately, you don’t usually have to search too hard to find someone to car share with. There are many groups up and down the country that use websites to link up their members, and they focus on a specific town, city or region.

Frequently asked questions

Can I charge money as a driver?
From a legal point of view, the driver is not permitted to make a profit from providing a lift; however, the contribution from passengers can include an appropriate amount towards depreciation and wear and tear. ‘Fares’ must be decided in advance, and the driver is not permitted to act as a taxi, picking up strangers along the route.
Do I have to share with a complete stranger?
Car sharing is about getting over this barrier, but if you can’t then maybe you’re better off sharing a train or bus – with complete strangers! Seriously though, good car-sharing schemes tend to have contact and security procedures in place that mean the person you share with will have gone through certain checks. Check that the organisation you plump for uses a secure website, and requires members to lodge their personal details with them when they register. They should also be able to give you tips on personal security.
What if nobody in my office lives near me?
It’s possible that someone in a local scheme will live within walking distance of where you work, and where you live.
What if I don’t want to share with the opposite sex?
You can stipulate a same-sex car share if you prefer.
What happens if I want to travel earlier than usual?
If you are the driver, you just let the other person know (preferably with fair advance warning), so that they can arrange to leave work earlier, or find another driver in their car-sharing scheme. Passengers are free to call the driver to cancel or search for an alternative lift.
What happens if I don’t like the person I car-shared with?
As the driver, you can often avoid being matched up with that person again, by not responding to a lift they reply to or are looking for! If you’re a passenger, you just need to make sure you don’t apply for lifts offered by that driver in the future.
Can I request a no-smoking sharer?
You are free to discuss this with the prospective driver or passenger when you first contact them.
Do I have to change the terms of my car’s insurance?
There aren’t generally any insurance implications of car sharing, because it is usually a non-commercial agreement. But that said, we recommend that you inform your car insurance company if you participate in car sharing as a driver, just to be sure.

Let’s go!

To get you started, here are seven car sharing organisations

  1. Carplus
  2. Liftshare.com
  3. LiftshareSolutions
  4. Mylifts
  5. National Car Share
  6. Share a Car
  7. Share a Journey

And here are 10 regional car-sharing schemes:

Get a car insurance quote