/ Motoring

Would you share your car with a complete stranger?

Blablacar promotional video of people in car

With rail and fuel costs soaring, we need to get smarter when choosing how we travel. Plenty of us make car journeys with empty seats and we could easily share the cost with people wanting to go the same way…

…if only we knew who they were.

Well, where there’s a need, there’s a website and unsurprisingly a number of car-sharing services are popping up online. They aim to pair up drivers with spare seats and passengers who need a lift.

However, would I ever use such a service? As a car owner I’d most likely be offering my services as a driver and I must admit I’ve got reservations about having complete strangers in my car – what if they turned out to be crazy, moaned incessantly about petrol prices or simply hadn’t had a bath for months?

Is car sharing actually just the modern equivalent of picking up hitchhikers (plus all the associated risks) with a financial incentive attached?

Car-sharing services

Some services, such as the recently-launched Blablacar, offer a little extra security and the opportunity to vet fellow travellers before taking the plunge. Drivers log what kind of car they have, how comfortable it is and some pertinent info about their habits. Do they smoke? Do they listen to music while driving? How much do they like to chat with their passengers en route (rated on the Bla, BlaBla or BlaBlaBla scale!)?

After that, users of the service then ‘rate’ their passengers or driver on the website with a brief summary of their experience and a verdict delivered on a 1 to 5 star rating.

However, because it’s a new service, there are lots of people registered who’ve had no feedback at all, which doesn’t help if you’re trying to filter out the weirdos.

So would I use the service? Probably not, but maybe that’s because I’m just antisocial and reasonably affluent – petrol prices haven’t yet hit the heights that would force me to share my car with strangers.

Would I have used a car-sharing service in my penniless student days? Yes I would. It’s a whole lot better than standing on the roadside with your thumb stuck out for hours before eventually being picked up by a lonely truck driver. Have you or would you use a car-sharing scheme?

Comments
Member

I did this for a few months a couple of years back. I registered on a lift sharing website, a guy who did the same jouney as me got in touch and we alternated cars for a couple of days each week.

It did obviously save us both fuel, which was the goal of course, the guy was normal enough and I had no concerns like that. So yes, it can work.

I’m not sure that I’d do it again though, because it’s not exactly convenient. It’s awkward if one of you has to leave work early or stay late unexpectedly etc. Also the extra pressure of knowing that someone else is relying on you doesn’t help, and unless you’re incredibly lucky, you’re never going to find someone to do this with who lives and works exactly on your doorstep, so it will always incur a few extra miles and minutes to make it happen, depending on your arrangement of course.

These little things and others all add up, and to be honest just for the sake of saving a few quid, I’d rather drive by myself, it’s a lot less hassle.

Member

Colleagues, friends or neighbours – maybe, if it suits [rich835 highlights the snags above]. Complete strangers? No way – a long journey could be a nightmare. If you did do it I think you’d need some rules – no smoking, no phone calls or other distractions, no route directions, no time constraints, no commentary or arguments, no fiddling with the heating or radio controls, and any payment in advance.

Member

Not for me, but I give many lifts to people I know.

Member

High fuel prices don’t stop parents going on the ‘school run’ when there is a bus they could send the children on. In Northern Ireland all children are entitled to a free bus pass, which is given to them at the start of the school year. But it seems most don’t use it as there is always gridlock outside the schools.

Member

I would to worry about the insurance implications – Would a regular fee to supply a passenger a journey not be a commercial transaction? Like a taxi?

I sometimes give neighbours a lift – but there is no commercial transaction involved. So my insurance is valid.

Member

I think the usual phrase is “hire and reward”. Given that there is no reward and definitely no hire, your insurance would still cover you. To be a reward, the amount received would have to exceed the costs of the journey, and you can also factor in fixed costs like insurance, road tax and maintenance.

Member

nfh

N0 – the correct thing to do is to write or phone your insurance company – explain exactly what you want to do – and ask for an answer in writing whether or not your insurance covers you.

If you are sharing expenses then you have a reward – because you are saving money. I think you are wrong and must check first.

I know of a number of insurance covers that have NOT covered the person concerned – It is far far better to make sure FIRST rather suffer the consequences afterwards.

Member

I agree with Richard. You cannot afford to take chances with insurance, whatever it may say on car sharing websites.

I regularly check that I’m covered to use my car for charity work, which now accounts for most of my driving. Each time I am told that I am covered as long as I receive no payment. I do wish that this was in writing in their insurance documentation.

Member

Wavechange

I’m the same – I transport dogs to new homes for our charity (and sometimes new adopters to view) I do not charge