Carpooling: Great for the Environment, Great for Your Budget, and Easier Than You Might Think!

2011 went down in the record books as the most expensive gasoline average ever ($3.51), and experts predict that 2012 will be even worse. The EPA estimates that over 85% of suburban-to-urban commuters drive to work alone. And the typical American car emits its own weight in carbon dioxide (CO2) every year. So why not carpool? You can:

  • Save a whole bunch of money! Figure out how much a solo drive is costing you with this commuter calculator from, then think about how much you could save on tolls, gas, parking and car maintenance by sharing the ride.
  • Lighten the load on the environment. If the average commuting vehicle carried one extra person, the US could save 33 million gallons of gas every day. And you can save 1,500 pounds of CO2 by driving 25 fewer miles a week.
  • Cut time by using High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes, if your area has them (27 metropolitan areas do).
  • Reduce stress by not having to drive in traffic every day, enjoying social time and maybe even reading or napping along the way.

Great, you say. But I want the flexibility of driving my own car!  It’s a personal decision, obviously, but aren’t the benefits listed above worth a little compromise? These tips can make it easier:

  • Find a compatible group of commuters and decide beforehand how you feel about cell phone use, music, eating in the car, etc. Locate potential carpoolers at work, in your neighborhood or on a site like RideShare.
  • The more people you have in your carpool, the greater the savings. With four people in your carpool, for example, you could each drive one day and then agree to all drive solo one day a week.
  • Make carpooling serve one purpose: commuting. Running errands along the way slows everyone down.
  • Be considerate. Coordinate via cell phone if someone’s going to be late, and appoint alternates in case the assigned driver drops out.

Do you carpool now, or have your carpooled in the past? Got any tips for making it a success? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Thanks to Flickr user Fizscy.