By Bongiwe Zwane – Maseko
The rise in air pollution and traffic in countries worldwide has become a significant issue, which is why more and more people are turning to carpool. In Eswatini the need to carpool is mainly driven by the skyrocketing fuel costs, which make it difficult for most people to drive to work every day. Carpooling refers to when a group of people share a vehicle to travel together. Someone from the group owns the vehicle used for carpooling or they take weekly or monthly turns using different cars.
In more advanced countries, one of the major reasons people opt to carpool is to reduce carbon emissions as it is one of the important contributors to air pollution. Polluted air is harming the environment and every living thing on the earth. Animals are unable to breathe or survive, and so are human beings. The polluted air we inhale results in severe diseases.
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Heavy traffic on roads caused due to the excessive number of vehicles is also a matter of concern. Heavy traffic causes delays in arrival to certain places; also, sometimes, it can be problematic in emergencies. Carpooling can be an effective solution to problems such as heavy traffic and air pollution. Carpooling encourages people to travel together when heading for the same or nearby destinations.
- Reduced carbon emission– when people start carpooling, there are fewer cars on the road every day, which means less carbon is released into the air. A reduced amount of carbon emissions will help reduce air pollution as well.
- Reduced Traffic– Reduced number of vehicles means less traffic on the road and people will reach their destinations on time. Sitting in traffic for long hours makes individuals irritated and bored. Most importantly, it delays the arrival at the destination. Fewer cars mean less traffic.
- Savings galore– Carpooling is an excellent way to save money and time. One can save money on the costs of travelling, including the fuelling of cars. Time will also be saved, as there will be less traffic.
- Fuels costs reduce – If there are fewer cars on the roads, the demand for fuel will also decrease, and the reduced demand will not raise fuel prices too much.
- An opportunity to socialise – Many people who work together do not get a chance to socialise much because they do not get the time or may not get the chance to do so. Carpooling together will allow them to spend time and socialise with each other.
- Less privacy- Some people prefer privacy while travelling. Those individuals will have to compromise their privacy.
- Different time requirements- Individuals who carpool together may finish work at different times or may need to reach their destination differently. It becomes a problem when carpooling.
- There are no quiet moments. There is always something going on during a commute when carpooling. Someone’s phone may ring or there may be side discussions going on that wouldn’t be happening if the commute was happening solo. Even in silence, there is the sound of others breathing that can be somewhat disturbing to some individuals. It’s nice to be social, but it’s also nice to be alone sometimes as well.
- There may be costs or fees associated with carpooling. Not everyone may be able to contribute towards fuel in the same way. Others may not own cars so more costs may be shouldered by one person
- There are still environmental consequences that may occur. Even though there are fewer vehicles on the road, there are still environmental consequences that may occur from the use of a vehicle for carpooling. Even electric vehicles may be powered by energy that was generated by fossil fuels. Although this key point may not be relevant for all, it does have a bearing on some discussions.
According to the Arrive Alive SA website, most carpoolers agree that the good company of their fellow carpoolers is a benefit that they enjoy and hadn’t anticipated. Agreement on a few simple points will ensure that your carpool stays a happy one. Although these points seem to be just common sense, there are a few specific rules that you may want to consider.
- The Bottom Line – Settle reimbursement costs in advance. If there is one permanent vehicle and driver it’s only fair to establish a fare based on petrol, maintenance, and parking costs. Agree on when fares will be collected and stick to it.
- Don’t Be Late – Nothing can disrupt a happy carpool faster than chronically late carpoolers. Establish a schedule and pick-up points. Establish rules for latecomers and decide how long to wait (5 minutes is standard).
- No, Stopping – This is the golden rule of carpooling! Your commute together serves only one purpose – to travel to and from work or school. Save your trips to the supermarket for the weekend and pick up your dry cleaning on your lunch break.
- The Back-Up Plan – This is particularly important if your carpool has more than one driver. Ensure everyone has a copy of phone numbers and agree in advance on what will happen in the event of illness or mechanical problems – it is best to expect the unexpected. Give plenty of notice if you will be away.
- Insurance – Make Sure You’re Covered. To adequately protect yourself, liability insurance is recommended as well as underinsured motorist protection. These are good investments and cost only a few Emalangeni more each year.
- Vehicle Maintenance. Mechanics say a poorly maintained car can consume between 15 and 50 per cent more petrol than one that is properly maintained. A well-maintained vehicle will ensure a safe, reliable, and comfortable ride.
- The Little Things – Sometimes it is the little things that make a big difference. Consider the proximity of your carpool partners before applying too much perfume or cologne in the morning, many people are highly sensitive to certain smells and can become extremely uncomfortable. Use common sense when making seating arrangements – big people in the front, smaller people in the back. Decide on radio use, smoking policies and other concerns before you start carpooling.