Back in the office and already sick of the commute? Has the return to a daily drive hit your budget hard? Or maybe you’ve just run out of podcasts to pass the time behind the wheel?
If you’re trying to relax your neck after aggressively nodding in agreement with any of these questions, it might be time to think about something you’d usually associate with mini vans and soccer teams—carpooling.
The average American spends over 27 minutes in travel time during their commute, according to the 2019 U.S. Census. That’s almost an hour out of your day for a round trip. Plus, all that driving costs you money in gas, insurance, and sometimes tolls and parking (ugh).
If you’re ready to start thinking seriously about joining a carpool, here’s the low-down. No juice boxes required.
What is carpooling?
We’re guessing you know what carpooling is. But just in case… here’s a formal definition: Carpooling is when multiple people arrange to make a regular journey together in a single vehicle. Typically, each person takes turns driving the others.
A carpool could be a group of co-workers who commute from the same suburb into the city. Or, you and some friends that decide to share a car on the way to a concert, instead of each of you taking your own cars separately.
Carpooling could also mean ride-sharing with a group of people you know, or with complete strangers. Keep in mind: If there aren’t multiple people in the same car going to the same area, it might not be carpooling.
What are the benefits of carpooling?
Carpooling prevents multiple people from taking their own car to the same place. But what are the major benefits (and why should it matter to you)?
Here are some ways sharing a commute could improve your daily routine.
Get to know your co-workers better
If you’re a social butterfly, driving alone to work could get pretty boring. Chatting with co-workers during your commute could make it a more fun ride. Also, building friendships with people from other departments could have surprising benefits down the road.
Save money on gas and parking
It’s no secret that fuel costs are soaring. In many cities you might have to pay for parking once you get to work. And in some states, you’ll pay tolls to drive on major interstates and highways. Carpooling saves you money—period.
Reduce wear and tear on your vehicle
Typically, in carpool programs, people take turns being the one to drive. Driving responsibility between carpool members rotates. So it might be your turn to drive the group only on Wednesdays. Keep in mind: To join a carpool, you’ll need a car that can comfortably fit all of the passengers on your designated day.
Even if you’re driving just one day a week, you’re putting fewer miles on your car than if you’re driving alone everyday. This means less wear and tear, a lower risk of getting in an accident, and lower repair and maintenance costs.
Plus, low-mileage driving is usually good for your car insurance rates…
Qualify for low-mileage driver discounts
Does your car insurer offer low-mileage discounts? (hint: Lemonade Car does!).
When you drive with the Lemonade app, we’re able to monitor your mileage and could offer discounted rates if you’re a low-mileage driver.
Faster commute using carpool lanes
High-occupancy vehicle (HOV) and carpool lanes offer incentives to drivers to join a carpool.
Imagine a world where you’re saving time during the morning and evening commutes. You can hop right on an HOV lane if you have two or more people in your car. Because fewer cars are in the HOV lanes, they typically move faster. You might find yourself breezing past bumper-to-bumper traffic jams that solo driver cars are stuck in.
Reduce carbon emissions
If you’re looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint, carpooling is a great way to help the environment. Think about it: If you and four co-workers were driving into work in five separate cars, but now you’re carpooling in one, there are fewer cars on the road every day. That’s less traffic congestion and fewer emissions being released into the atmosphere.
Car-sharing, and taking public transportation, reduce air pollution. Not to mention—at Lemonade Car, we’ll plant trees to help clean up the carbon emissions from the miles you do spend behind the wheel.
How can I find a carpool?
Sold on the benefits of carpooling? That’s great! Now it’s time to find like-minded drivers with similar routes as you.
Here are a few ways to search for your carpool crew:
- Carpooling apps. These apps connect riders and drivers in similar areas who are attending an event (like a football game or concert), or who regularly drive to the same area (like a work commute).
- Ride-matching. Some apps, like Uber and Lyft, match you with other users who are traveling a similar route.
- Campuses. With limited on-campus parking, your university’s student services might offer carpooling programs or help finding a group. This cuts down on the number of cars jockeying for limited spots.
- Vanpool. In parts of the US that are known for heavy traffic congestion and terrible commutes—we’re looking at you Seattle, Los Angeles, Boston, New York City—you might still be able to find a vanpool run by a service.
- Employers. Does your employer have an Intranet or employee list-serve? Consider posting an ad and see if anyone near you would like to carpool!
Before you head to the carpool lane…
Once you find a carpool, you’ll be doing your part to help the environment. Not to mention—reducing your annual mileage will likely reduce your car insurance rates.
Getting some time to read, knit, or chat with co-workers instead of clenching a steering wheel will likely reduce your stress levels, too. All in all, carpooling can be a big win.