Carpooling. Very popular in Europe, much like crappy burgers and fast trains. In the US? Not so much, which is surprising given that Americans drive more than anyone else in the world. Carpooling constitutes only 10% of all US commutes. Driving is so ingrained in American culture that people will go into a mall and drive to a parking lot for one store, and then drive to another parking lot just a few steps away, for another store. And they will do this without any consideration because it’s part of their DNA. Just as it is for certain Europeans to not use deodorant and then pack into overcrowded buses on the way to work. You know who you are.
Anyway, carpooling is very big in Europe. There is a company called BlaBlaCar (great name) which works very much like Uber. If you want to go from Berlin to Munich, but don’t want to pay the train ticket or the schedule doesn’t make sense, you go on BlaBlaCar, select your route, and you’ll see various people who will be driving the same route. You pick the driver, compensate the driver (pretty much just split the fuel costs), and then go where the driver will offer to stop. Here are 4 reasons why you should consider carpooling to either work or even on vacation.
This is, of course, the big reason why carpooling is such a good idea. Let’s drill down into the details to see how much money you’d save by carpooling.
Imagine the following scenario:
Dave commutes 50 miles to work every day (25 mi each way). This comes out to 1,000 miles. Let’s say he fills out his gas tank once a week, which costs him $25. Over a month, that works out to $100 in gas. Over a year, that’s $1,200 in gas.
Now let’s say that Mike offers to ride with Dave every day and in exchange will split the fuel. That $1,200 in gas now went down to $600. Extrapolate that over 10 years, and that’s $6,000. No small change.
To offer a real world example: my uncle lives in Slovakia and works in the capital, Bratislava, but drives two hours northeast to see his family every weekend. Every Friday night, he tells people in BlaBlaCar that he’s going to his hometown, and quite often one or two people will join him and pay for most of his fuel. For the passenger, a car ride is more convenient than a crowded bus or train, and cheaper. For the driver, it pays for most of his fuel costs. Win-Win.
This might seem a strange one, given that you have a person in the car who might be a talker and you might fear being distracted, but in actuality, an additional set of eyes and ears in a vehicle is a good thing, provided it’s not a screaming toddler called Larry.
Especially on night-time routes, the driver will have someone to keep him company, which reduces the chances of falling asleep at the wheel. But beyond that, even during morning commutes, when you have another person in the car, you magically become a better driver. You pay attention more, get distracted less, and are more apt to follow rules and less likely to cut someone off and flick them off.
Yeah, you might shake your head at this one and say that taking one car off the road won’t matter, but it will matter once you scale carpooling up. But once a few more thousand cars start coming off the road, it makes an impact. Less pollution, less congestion, less stress on the roads.
In short, carpooling is a fantastic option for daily commuters, as well as for longer-distance trips. You not only save money by saving on fuel, you help reduce stress on the roads, be a better, safer driver, and make it more convenient for other people to complete their routes.