Car Sharing Schemes
- The benefits of sharing
- The insurance implications of sharing
- Car sharing sites
- Joining a car club
- How a car club works
- Personal safety
The ever-increasing cost of motoring is leading more and more people to give up owning a car. But for many, being without a car need not be the handicap it may seem. After all, car clubs and sharing schemes can give access to the use of a car for just a day or two – or even an hour. We explain how they work, and provide links to various schemes.
The benefits of sharing
Car sharing (also called lift sharing, ridesharing and car pooling) is when two or more people, who would otherwise have made individual journeys in their own vehicles, share a car and travel together. It allows individuals to benefit from the convenience of the car, whilst reducing costs, congestion and pollution.
There are clear benefits from sharing. For example:
If everyone who drives on their own to work every day were to catch a lift with someone just once a week, the commuting car journeys would reduce by 20%! And both parties would save money!
Sharing journeys reduces running costs, and also saves you time looking for parking spaces. You’re also helping to save the planet by reducing your carbon footprint.
Think about this: it’s estimated that if car sharing increased by half, so that the average occupancy of a car rose from 1.58 to 2.37, then there would be a one third reduction in road traffic. Even a 10% increase in sharing would reduce traffic by 9%. (Source: National Carshare)
The Association of British Insurers (ABI), who represent 400 organisations and 94% of insurance services sold in the UK, confirm that car sharing will not affect the insurance of their members, as long as the vehicle seats no more than eight passengers and a profit is not made from any payment by passengers.
The person getting the lift gives the driver a cash contribution towards the fuel costs, so both of them save money. The amount of money that changes hands is up to the parties concerned, but the driver must not participate on a “for profit” basis.
Alternatively, if driver and passenger share on a regular basis and each owns a car, they may prefer to operate on a “day on, day off” or “week on, week off” basis, where they take it in turns to drive.
Car sharing organisations include:
Car clubs can give you access to a car for essential journeys without the need to own one. Belonging to a club means you can hire a vehicle which is parked in a reserved parking space, close to homes or workplaces. Vehicles can be used and paid for on an hourly, daily or weekly basis.
Using a car club can be less expensive and less hassle than owning your own car. You don’t have to buy a vehicle or pay for expenses like maintenance, an MOT or car tax.
Car clubs include:
- Streetcar was reviewed by Good Motoring Magazine in January 2007.
- City Car Club
- Zip Car
- You can find a directory of local car clubs
- Booking is simple. Typically you would call a central office to reserve a car, or you can book online.
- Cars can be hired 24 hours a day for as little as an hour at a time.
- cars are left in parking bays close to homes or workplaces
- Keys are either kept at a nearby safe, or in the car, which is accessed using a smart card
- You will typically pay a monthly or yearly fee, and you will be billed for the hours hired and the miles driven
- All the servicing and maintenance is taken care of, so you don’t have to worry.
The main car sharing organisations take safety very seriously and provide guidelines to their members. Security should always be a key part of any car share arrangement. Remember, personal safety is an issue GEM Motoring Assist takes very seriously. You can download your own copy of the GEM leaflet on personal safety, produced in connection with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.
I have three points on my licence from a speeding conviction last year. Will that mean I can’t join a car club?
Eligibility varies according to restrictions imposed by car club insurers, and you will be asked about any endorsements, convictions or insurance claims when you apply.
Are Car Club vehicles exempt from the London Congestion Charge?
Exemptions from the Charge are based on the type of car and the fuel it uses, not whether it is a Car Club vehicle. You are sure to receive all the relevant information relating to Congestion Charge payments before you make your journey.
What happens if I am late returning a car, or I want to keep it longer than I first thought?
The important thing here is to contact the car club BEFORE the return time arrives. You can usually extend your booking by calling the club, or using the on-board computer, unless another member is already waiting for the car. If you keep the car longer than your booking without contacting the car club, you will have most likely have to pay a penalty charge.