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Car share schemes – could they work for you?

two women sharing a ride in a carYou may well be full of good intentions this New Year, having resolved to either spend less or reduce your carbon footprint. But where do you start?

Thankfully, there is an alternative way to save without ditching your beloved motor. Give your wallet its very own MOT by car sharing.

You might be doing this already, by giving friends a lift to the pub or taking your neighbour’s kids on the school run. But if you want to save serious pounds, commuting to work with just one other can save on average £1,000* a year. What’s more, if you have more people in the car, the amount you save will increase!

And just think, with the money saved and the best deal in car loans, you could even look to buy a new, environmentally friendly motor! For more information on the latest eco cars, read our article on life in the fast lane.

When petrol prices reached an all time peak last summer, car sharing became a more attractive, viable option. In fact, a survey conducted by The AA alongside YouGov in September, found almost half the population (47%) were considering it.

Now, the government is giving their full support to car sharing schemes and has even set up a charity to help. A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “Car sharing has an important role to play in reducing congestion and carbon emissions as well as in saving people money when they travel. That is why we helped to establish the national charity Carplus, which promotes responsible car use. We have also recently produced an interactive guide to car sharing schemes, which is available on our website, and continue to provide best practice guidance.”

The ins and outs

So if you’re keen to join the ranks of car sharers, how can you go about it?

The first thing to do is look at car sharing websites. While there are several out there, the biggest is Liftshare.com, which has 300,000 registered users and also helps businesses and organisations by providing their very own car share schemes.

Cecilia Bromley-Martin from the site explained: “When people initially think about car sharing, they might be concerned if they only want to do it a couple of days a week. But car sharing is extremely flexible; once you’ve found someone, you can share as often as you like just by arranging with your sharer in advance.”

Happy marriage

Cecilia continued: “Car sharing couldn’t be simpler. You just log on, state your journey – for example Swindon to Reading – and then do a search to see which other members are wanting to go the same way. We tend to find that, once you start car sharing, you quickly find yourself doing it all the time. We’ve had some lovely feedback from members, including one who recently asked the car sharer she met through Liftshare to be her bridesmaid!”

If you’re already a car sharer but are looking for further ways to reduce your outgoings, compare car insurance at Confused.com to make sure you're getting the best deal.

Another car sharing success story is National CarShare. Established more than 10 years ago, the company has gone from strength to strength. In fact, from 2007 to 2008 there was a 50% increase of users on the site. Founders believe the lure of saving both money and the planet is the reason.

Hassle free

Alan Butters, of National CarShare, does understand, however, that some people might be concerned about the safety of getting into a car with a stranger. He said: “Usually, when people are sharing lifts and it’s on a regular basis, they tend to be in the same locality so they may know people in common. Obviously if someone is offering a cross-country lift, it might be from someone way out of their area.

“We advise people to check the person is who they say they are, to tell people who they’re going to meet, when and where and what the registration of the vehicle is. Even if you’re travelling with them regularly, do this until you’re happy with the arrangement. In addition, there are a number of precautions you can take including asking for a copy of the person’s car insurance certificate.”

*£1000 annual saving calculated by Liftshare thus:
The average Liftshare member has 7,313 miles of journey registered per year that they would like to share (usually the total annual mileage of their daily commute).
The average fuel cost is currently around 14p a mile.
The average total cost per mile is around 28p per mile (inc wear & tear, depreciation, etc).
If two individuals drive their own cars 7,313 miles, they will spend a total of £2,048 on fuel (2 x 7,313 x 14p). Their total travel costs would be £4,096 (2 x 7,313 x 28p).
If those two individuals shared one car with each other they would save £1,024 on fuel and their total travel costs would be £2,048.
By sharing a car, the fuel costs are reduced by £1,024 and the total costs reduced by £2,048. Which equals £1,024 each.