Car hire and car clubs Car share schemes
What are car share schemes?
Every day, there are millions of empty seats travelling up and down Britain’s roads. It’s a problem that clogs our motorways with unnecessary traffic, harms the environment, and sees thousands of drivers paying through the nose for journeys they needn’t make alone.
So whether you’re looking for a daily lift to work or an occasional trip to the supermarket, it’s definitely worth considering a car share scheme.
Not only does it save cash, there are environmental benefits. If every motorist shared their commute with just one other person, there would be half as many cars on our roads at peak times. That means faster journey times for everyone. Liftshare, the UK’s largest car share scheme, claims its members save around 162,420 tonnes of CO2 a year.
Car share schemes can also help to boost your social life, as you’ll meet new people who live and work in your area. And if you don't hit it off with the first person you share with, it won't take long to find someone else.
Although car sharers can make their own arrangements, most car share organisations recommend that drivers and passengers split journey costs equally. The lets you work out the cost of individual journeys.
How do I join a car share scheme?
One of the easiest ways to car share is to do it informally with someone you already know - a neighbour, shopping friend or fellow commuter. Explain the benefits of car sharing and try to be as flexible with times and locations as you can.
Alternatively, you can find a car share scheme online. There are several free-to-join nationwide car share schemes, plus hundreds of smaller, local groups that match people with other car sharers.
Most let members decide if they want to always drive, drive when it suits them or never drive at all. It’s also possible to car share with someone on a regular basis, or just share with someone when you can’t make other arrangements.
- Liftshare – the UK’s largest car share scheme with almost 300,000 members, matches people with empty seats
- Carshare.com – a database of car share schemes in operation around the country
- Carplus – a national charity promoting responsible car use, including car clubs and car share schemes
- Village Car Share – the rural arm of the Liftshare organisation, with emphasis on car sharing in the countryside
- Share a Car – a website that promotes car sharing among commuters. Charges a membership fee but claims to verify every member’s identity.
Car share safety
Safety is especially important when car sharing with someone you don’t know, or have only recently met; for this reason, most car share organisations let females stipulate that they would rather only travel with other females.
For many, the first contact with new car sharers is via email. It’s worth exchanging phone numbers at this point so you know who you’re talking to before you go on to make detailed plans.
Arrange to meet in a well-lit, public place that’s easy to get to and away from – a large train station is ideal. Never give out your home address or arrange to visit the other person’s house until you feel you know them well enough to do so. Also, let someone else know where you’re going.
When you first meet up, check the car sharer’s driving licence or other ID (many car share clubs have membership cards) to make sure it’s who you were expecting. Passengers should ask the driver for details about their car, including the registration number, in advance. If things don’t add up, or if you feel at all uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to leave.
Car share etiquette
Seventy-two percent of people questioned by the AA in a recent survey said they would be annoyed if someone they were car sharing with was persistently late.
Other things car sharers worried about included people eating in their car, putting their feet on the dashboard or seats, and criticising their driving.
As a car share passenger, try to avoid loud telephone conversations and definitely don't eat in someone else’s car without permission. As for directions, it's probably best to let the driver or sat-nav choose the route.
Should I drive or stay in the passenger’s seat?
It’s entirely up to you. Some people prefer being a passenger when car sharing as it gives them time to read, sleep or catch up on some work. Others, however, like the idea of driving their own car and being in control of their own time.
If you choose to drive, bear in mind that you can’t charge passengers for more than their fair share of the journey (including running costs). Do this, or give lifts in a vehicle with more than eight seats, and you might invalidate your car insurance.