5 Benefits of Carpooling

March 29, 2012

Find out how to start a carpool, the benefits of carpooling, and the rules and regulations of carpooling.

Carpooling To Work

Carpooling can be a very attractive option for those people who are traveling to the same (or nearby) location. There are many benefits to carpooling. Some of them include saving gas and money, less emissions, carpool lanes and others. Here are a few benefits of a carpool.

  • Gas savings. By taking one car, you can eliminate you and your passengers' gas usage. If you carpool with three people total, you are only using gas in one car, rather than three. That gas adds up, and if more and more people choose to carpool, we can really conserve our gasoline and oil usage.
  • Shared expenses. Not only do you save gas, but that also causes savings for gas. If one person is driving, you can split the cost of gas between the passengers. If there are three people and the monthly fuel cost to get to work is $100 per person, that would mean $300 for gas if they did not carpool. If you chose to carpool, you can pay the $100 for one person, and then split that in three equal parts, meaning you would pay $33 instead of $100. This is a huge savings that you can then use for bills, food or leisure.
  • Lower emissions. Carpooling can have great effects on the environment. The more cars that are on the road, the more toxic emissions that are released into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are released from the exhaust and cause the so-called greenhouse effect. This is believed by some to be a cause of global warming and has been a big problem over the past 100 years. It also creates poorer air quality. For example, there are constant smog alerts in cities like Los Angeles, and even international cities like Beijing.
  • Carpool lanes. Many states have carpool laws, and part of these laws is the creation of carpool lanes. On busy highways, the carpool lane is a benefit for those with a certain amount of people in the car. A carpool lane is a special lane, normally on the left, out of the traffic, which you can travel freely and usually with smooth sailing. You can beat the traffic, save gas and get to work in normal time instead of sitting in traffic, wasting gas and possibly being late for work.
  • Less stress. This is the one of the less obvious benefits of carpooling. By sharing the driving between the carpool participants, you can lower your stress levels by not having to drive. Driving can be very stressful when you constantly sit in traffic or deal with other motorists who are driving recklessly. On the days when you don't need to drive, you can relax, read the paper and just take it easy while you drive to work.

Carpool Lane Rules, Regulations and Restrictions

A high occupancy vehicle lane, also known as an HOV lane or a carpool lane, is a specially designated part of the road that is designed for cars carrying multiple people. Many different states and other countries have lanes of this type. They are to serve as an incentive for people to conserve energy and fuel by sharing rides with one another. In many places and at particular times of day, a high occupancy vehicle lane may be the only part of the road that isn't congested with traffic. Therefore, it's a wise choice for many different reasons to consider participating in a carpool or a rideshare program so that you can make use of these lanes. Read on for a bit more information about the general rules and regulations of these lanes; keep in mind, however, that the exact laws pertaining to carpool lanes will vary from state to state.

Passenger Restrictions

Most states mandate that there be at least two different adult riders in the car in order for the vehicle to legally drive in the carpool lane. This usually includes the driver and one other passenger. Small children do not usually count. Some states require that you have three or more people in the vehicle, so it's important to be aware of your state's laws. In some cases it is permissible for a single driver to move into a carpool lane temporarily in order to pass a slower car, but this is not allowed in all areas and the driver must usually return to the regular part of the road immediately.

Lane Location

Nearly all passenger and carpool lanes are located on the far left side of a major road. It's unlikely that you'll find any HOV lanes on a road with fewer than two lanes moving in the same direction. In many states, the HOV lane is actually separated off from the regular part of the road, so that standard vehicles with just one passenger cannot move into the HOV lane under normal circumstances.

Speed Limits

Many people assume that because many carpool lanes are less congested with traffic than standard lanes on the highway, that it's legal or safe to drive faster than normal in these lanes. This is not the case. The speed limit for the carpool lane is almost always exactly the same as the speed limit for the road in general. This is generally 65 miles per hour in the United States, although some states have slightly different speed limits.

Changing Carpool Lanes

Many states require that you not change lanes in and out of the carpool lane. There may be separate exits designated for vehicles driving in the carpool lane, or you may be somewhat restricted in the exits you're able to take. Be sure to obey these laws in order to avoid a ticket and to maintain your safety as you drive.

For more information about carpool lanes in your state, visit your local DMV website or consult a driver's manual.

How to Start a Carpool in Your Area

A company or community carpool can be a great way to not only save money on the costs of driving and gasoline, but to also help to protect the environment by polluting less. Carpooling, also known as vanpooling or as a rideshare program, consists of several people driving together to a similar destination. It's common for people who work at the same company to engage in a carpool so that they can drive together. However, it's also possible to find people who wish to carpool if you don't have people at your own place of business to drive with. Read on for a general guide to starting your own carpool.

  • Secure a vehicle. The first step toward starting your carpool is to secure a vehicle. Generally, the larger the vehicle is, the larger your regular set of carpool participants can be as well. Carpools are usually anywhere from three or four people up to as many as seven or eight, depending on the size of the vehicle. Keep in mind that the more people that have joined the carpool, the earlier you'll have to leave in order to arrive promptly and on time for work each day.
  • Contact your coworkers. A great place to start your search for carpool acquaintances is at your own place of business. Ask people who work with you and normally drive themselves to work if they would be interested in sharing rides to the office. You may also wish to bring up the issue in a staff or board meeting, or to place flyers or other materials around the office to drum up interest in your carpool system.
  • Ask people who work nearby. If you don't find a sufficient number of carpool participants in your own place of business, expand your search to include people who work nearby. Visit nearby offices and businesses and put up flyers with your contact information and other details about the carpool.
  • Organize the route and payment plan. Once you have a set number of participants in your carpool group, plan out the route. This will help you to know exactly who will need to be picked up along the way at which point in time, which helps to give people a chance to plan out their mornings. You can also determine how people can contribute for gasoline by adding up the amount of time that they'll be in the car and figuring out a percentage. Figure out which other vehicles you can potentially use if yours breaks down, or if you simply want to rotate out other cars.

Set up a phone chain or contact system so that people can alert each other if there are any changes to the plan on carpool days. A general schedule will be helpful as well, in order to ensure that everyone knows exactly where and when to meet when you do decide to carpool.

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