Ridesharing/ Carpooling and Road Safety
During Transport Month 2006, the Department of Transport, in partnership with the Gauteng Department of Transport, Roads and Public Works, the Metropolitan Cities of Tshwane and Johannesburg and the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL), implemented a dedicated lane for High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV) between Tshwane and Johannesburg. The purpose of this campaign was to encourage motorists to share rides or make use of public transport in order to help reduce traffic congestion on our roads.
The high occupancy vehicle lanes are demarcated for vehicles with 3 or more persons (i.e: private cars and public transport vehicles with 3 and more persons). Single private car users (i.e. one person in a car) are deemed to be one of the main causes of traffic congestion.
What is ridesharing / carpooling?
It is a way of people sharing their cars with others who are traveling in the same direction. Commuters that live near each other and share a common destination can travel together in one vehicle and form the simplest and most common "carpool" arrangement. Carpooling is an ideal cost saving arrangement, particularly for those individuals who commute long distances to and from work each day, have limited access to public transit and few transportation options available to them.
Types of carpools
- Designated Driver Carpool
This carpool generally has one driver and one or more passengers. The driver provides the vehicle and passengers pay a daily, weekly or monthly fare based on expenses such as petrol, maintenance and parking.
- Alternating Carpool
Enjoy the simplicity of a carpool in which driving is alternated on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Costs are incurred only during the period in which you are required to drive. Or, put simply -- when you drive you pay, when you ride it’s free.
- Employer Carpool
Some employers encourage employees to share the ride to and from work by allowing the use of company vehicles. Employees pay a fare to offset additional petrol, maintenance and insurance costs. As most company vehicles sit idle in parking lots after business hours this system can benefit both employers and employees. Employers can save their parking for paying customers while demonstrating their environmental responsibility and employees can save money.
Carpooling is not only flexible and economical but also helps reduce air pollution, traffic congestion and consumption of non-renewable energy resources.
Benefits of ridesharing/ carpooling
- Ensure a Healthy Environment for Future Generations
There is a more tragic cost related to automobile use: degradation of our environment. Every day, millions of vehicles pump pollutants into our atmosphere. Some of this fall to earth, fouling streams and contaminating crops. Others rise into the stratosphere, damaging the ozone layer and causing global climate warming – the "greenhouse effect".
Still more of these pollutants cling close to earth, inhaled with every breath we take. Air pollution is a proven cause in several lung ailments, from asthma to emphysema.
Ridesharing reduces the impact of automobiles on our roadways and our environment very simply – by traveling in groups rather than alone, ridesharing decreases the number of vehicles on our roads.
- Save Money
Carpooling or ridesharing can save you up to half of all your petrol and maintenance costs and in some cases eliminate the need for the costly second family vehicle.
- Arrive feeling relaxed
We’ve gone from ox-wagon to millions of cars on South Africa’s roads. Increased road rage and gridlock affect everyone. One of the greatest benefits of sharing the ride to work is taking the stress out of driving. Read, sleep, work, socialise or just plain relax instead of being stuck behind the wheel yourself.
Tips and etiquette of ridesharing/ carpooling
Most carpoolers agree that the good company of their fellow carpoolers is a benefit that they really enjoy and hadn’t anticipated. Agreement on a few simple points will ensure that your carpool stays a happy one. Although these points seem to be just common sense, there are a few specific rules that you may want to consider.
- Get to know your Carpoolmates
Contact the commuters on your “matchlist” to discuss the possibility of carpooling together. Get to know them, talk about specifics, and maybe even meet them for coffee. Visit www.carpoolmates.co.za to find your Carpoolmates.
- The Bottom Line – How Much $$
Settle on reimbursement costs in advance. If there is one permanent vehicle and driver it’s only fair to establish a fare based on petrol, maintenance and parking costs. Agree when fares will be collected and stick to it.
- Don’t Be Late
Nothing can disrupt a happy carpool faster than chronically late carpoolers. Establish a time schedule and pick-up points. Establish rules for latecomers and decide how long to wait (5 minutes is standard).
- No Stopping – Anytime!
The golden rule of carpooling! Your commute together serves only one purpose – to travel to and from work or school. Save your trips to the grocery store for the weekend and pick-up your dry cleaning on your lunch break.
- The Back Up Plan…..
This is particularly important if your carpool has more than one driver. Ensure everyone has a copy of home, work or cell phone numbers and agree in advance what will happen in the event of illness or mechanical problems – it is best to expect the unexpected. Give plenty of notice if you will be away. Also an Automobile Association membership can be a great investment for those rare occasions when the keys are locked in the car or a jump-start is needed.
- Insurance – Make Sure You’re Covered
To adequately protect yourself, liability insurance is recommended as well as underinsured motorist protection. These are a good investment and cost only a few rand more each year. We also recommend that you notify your insurance provider of your intent to carry passengers.
- Vehicle Maintenance
A poorly maintained car can consume between 15 and 50 percent more petrol than one that is properly maintained. A well maintained vehicle will ensure a safe, reliable, comfortable ride that’s better for the environment.
- The Little Things…..
Sometimes it is the little things that make a big difference. Consider the close proximity of your carpool partners before applying perfume or cologne in the morning, many people are highly sensitive to certain smells and can become extremely uncomfortable.
Use common sense when making seating arrangements - big people in the front, smaller people in the back. Decide on radio use, smoking policies and other concerns before you start carpooling.
Drive safely! Always make your carpool partner(s) feel they are in good hands.
[Recommendations on carpooling kindly provided by Carpoolmates.]
For more information on carpooling and to find your Carpoolmates visit www.carpoolmates.co.za.
Also visit the following websites for more information on ridesharing: