Car Sharing May Cut Driving Costs

Britons could be on course to become a nation of car sharers, AA Insurance research predicts. Almost half (47%) of the population are now considering car sharing, despite only one in 10 (11%) people admitting to currently doing so more than once week.

And it seems that the cost of petrol is the key reason – 51% say that they are more likely to consider car sharing now because of high fuel costs. What's more, 60% of the 5.5 million Brits who already do car share, say their primary reason is to save money on petrol costs. Only a third (34%) say it's to help reduce emissions – strong evidence that the credit crunch is influencing people's behaviour over green issues.

Reasons for car sharing

AA Insurance researched car-share attitudes amongst 2,000 people in the UK, to find out why people do and don't car share. Topping the list of car-share reasons was social reasons such as going to the pub, over half (54%) citing this as a car-share activity which suggests that one of the party is the non-drinking driver! A third (34%) share the drive to and from work while another third (32%) share long journeys.

Edmund King, President of the AA says: "Car sharing is something that we really believe in – not only is it a good way to reduce emissions and congestion on the road, but can also save on motoring costs. There is huge scope to become more of a car sharing nation and our research suggests that we could see a big increase, especially if Government proposals for 'high-occupancy vehicle' or 'car sharing' lanes on some busy commuter routes go ahead."

He adds however, that the research showed three-quarters (73%) of car sharers did not consider checking their car insurance before car sharing. While many will be covered for the social journeys they make, like giving a lift to a friend, some business travel may need separate cover. "It is important to make sure you are covered – and that you don't make a profit from car sharing: that would become classed as using your car 'for hire or reward' which would immediately invalidate your cover."

Car sharing etiquette - how annoying are you?

Despite petrol costs forcing people to consider sharing journeys, many drivers are letting doubts about their potential passenger's manners put a stop to their good intentions. The biggest turn off was lateness, nearly three-quarters (72%) of people saying that this would be the most annoying behaviour that a car sharer could do.

In fact, 61% of all those surveyed said that people's annoying car habits could put them off sharing. AA Insurance polled the top annoyances and used these to draw up a list of car share etiquette to help motorists make the transition:

  1. Lateness (72%)
    Solution: ensure that you set your alarm earlier and leave extra time before you meet your car sharer.
  2. Criticising driving (42%)
    Solution: keep quiet if you do not agree with the car sharer's driving habits. If they are particularly dangerous, perhaps bring it up at another point when you are not in the car.
  3. Putting your feet on dashboard/seat (39%)
    Solution: even if you put your feet on your own dashboards, other people may not appreciate this so be mindful of this in other cars.
  4. Loud telephone conversations (35%)
    Solution: put your phone on silent and try to refrain from telephone calls. If you do have to make calls, ask the driver first.
  5. Eating in the car (29%)
    Solution: eat your breakfast before you get in the car! Food will not only make a mess, but it can be smelly too.

Car insurance and car sharing

Car sharing is permitted by AA Car Insurance although the vehicle should be insured for the use it is being put to. For example, most policies cover social domestic and pleasure (which includes commuting to your main place of work). However, if the car is being used for occasional business use (such as travelling to an employer's branch offices or to business meetings) the insurance policy should be extended to include that use, which will include cover for car sharing with colleagues.

Find out more about car insurance from the AA and get a car insurance quote.