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Why car share?

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Author: Alexandra Gubbins

Around 60% of drivers of the 31 million cars on Britain's roads travel alone, and with the number increasing every year, the idea of car sharing as an option is being promoted by County Councils as well as Friends of the Earth and Carplus.

Car sharing, also known as carpooling, is when two or more people travel together by car, and the passenger generally makes a donation towards running costs. There are a number of organisations, such as, that enable people living in the same area who make similar journeys to make contact with each other, encouraging more participation in lift sharing.

The number of people taking part in car sharing arrangements is relatively small but increasing, and supporters of car sharing initiatives hope that this will become a much more popular way of travelling in the future.Why car share?- Car sharing reduces your travel costs. By car sharing for a year, the average driver would save 1000 on fuel and parking costs. If car sharers alternate with whose turn it is to drive, the amount of wear and tear that happens to both cars is halved and the cars will better keep their value.- Car sharing reduces emissions. Sharing a car with 1 other person would save 648 kg of carbon dioxide emissions a year, and if half the drivers of the UK shared a lift just once a week, pollution would be reduced by 10%. Emissions are a serious problem for both people and the environment.

90% of the population in London is caused by cars, and the cost of that pollution in human lives is high, with estimates suggesting that more people die from pollution than from car accidents. 70% of asthma sufferers believe that pollution makes their condition worse, and with 5.1 million asthmatics in the UK, anything that can be done to reduce emissions should be encouraged.- Car sharing reduces congestion and parking problems. There are massive congestion problems on Britain's motorways and in and around many towns and cities across the UK, and car sharing would help alleviate the situation. Congestion costs British businesses a staggering 15 billion every year in lost work hours, and parking presents a problem for many employers.

If the average car occupancy were to increase by half - from 1.58 people per car to 2.37 people per car - there would be a third fewer cars on the roads. Many employers who encourage car sharing have found that their car parking problem has disappeared with their employees coming to work in one car rather than three.

- Car sharing increases transport options for rural areas. Rural areas often have little or no access to public transport and it can be very difficult for people without cars to get around. Car sharing would provide options for these people, who may be able to share a journey with someone in their neighbourhood.

There have been taxi-sharing initiatives arranged in some villages, which have had some success, but have yet to widely catch on.

- Car sharing is a good way to meet new people. It often works best in situations such as travelling to and from work or doing the school run where there are lots of people entering and leaving the area at the same time. People can get to know colleagues that they would not otherwise have met, as well as neighbours and other people who live nearby.

- Car sharing can reduce car insurance. If two people alternate who drives and who is a passenger, they can both get cheaper car insurance because they will be doing fewer miles a year.

The reason for this is that, although the car occupants are just as likely to be in a car accident, both cars are less likely to be involved in an accident if they are being driven less. Thus, car insurance companies appreciate this lower risk and lower their prices appropriately.

Car sharing is good for health, money and the environment, and is a good way to meet more neighbours. Trials of new lanes just for car sharers are being introduced on motorways such as the M1, as similar principles have been successfully applied in America and Australia, so car sharing could get people to work quicker too.

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Author: Alexandra Gubbins of

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