The definition of carpooling seems simple but packs a big punch. Carpooling is when two or more people -- typically from different households -- share an automobile journey together. Usually people arrange carpools in order to save money on things like fuel, tolls and parking, to help protect the environment by burning less gasoline, to enjoy each other's company and, hopefully, to reduce the stress that driving can cause.
Cities with worse traffic, longer commutes and longer rush hour times often have more people who want to carpool. In areas where you find "extreme commuters" traveling an hour or more to work every day, there is even more demand for carpooling. Carpoolers can find a ride share through the Internet or workplace carpool postings. The government and many employers encourage carpools as a convenience for workers and to ease congestion on the roads (like HOV lanes).
Sometimes, the passengers will offer to pay for gas or tolls as a thank you to the driver. On very long cross-country drives, they may take a turn manning the steering wheel. Of course, if you accept a carpool, you may need to compromise on your specific work hours in order to make a carpool happen.
Although there are many benefits to carpooling, not many people are choosing to do it. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 American Community Survey, only 9.4 percent carpool and that the majority, 76.4 percent drive alone to work.
Everyone in the family can participate in a carpool and receive different types of benefits. Here are four different ways to use a carpool.
Carpool to Get to Work
Carpooling can be regular and formalized, such as every workday or every Thursday or it can be flexible, especially if many of the participants have a flexible work schedule.
This all depends on who is participating in the carpool. If there are commuters that work at different companies having a formalized carpool with specific hours and pick up/drop off location may be beneficial. However if everyone works in the same company the timing may be more flexible because there's less things to organize.
Here are a few apps to help you get to work. The Looptivity app can be used to organize your carpool plus other activities in your busy family life. The Car Pool Party app organizes and keeps track of your carpooling schedule. Lastly, the HitchARide app is a social ridesharing app where you can watch the social feed to hitch a ride to work.
Carpool to Go on a Long Trip
A carpool could be arranged for especially long or unusual car trips. The majority of carpools for work commutes are family members driving together. However, many large cities offer carpool pickup locations where drivers can pick up a stranger to drive in or out of the urban area. Usually these correlate with carpool lanes on the highways that let cars with a specific number of people -- often set at two or three or more -- to give drivers an incentive to pick up passengers.
The UberPOOL app is carpooling for long-distances, where there's a flat-fee and a discount if more than one person hitches a ride. ZimRide, hosted by the car-renting business Enterprise, is a private social network specifically for corporations and universities to host.
Carpool to Transport your Kids
You and other working moms know how tough it can be to get kids home from after-school activities when you're still at work! You could share this responsibilities with other parents so that you don't have to leave early every day to get the kids to their practice. Be sure to check everyone's insurance policies will cover driving other children who are not their own.
The Cozi app's is a family organizer and with it's gold membership you can share a calendar with other families in the carpool to keep track of whose turn it is. The Carpool School Edition app gives you a months glance of your carpooling schedule and allows you to manage your school's carpooling schedule.
Carpooling can make life easier and help you and your family strengthen your relationship within your community. With so many apps out there to make carpooling easier to manage it's worth giving it a shot!
Updated by Elizabeth McGrory