Carpooling for Fat Pockets

Tue, Feb 18, 2014

Budgeting, Financial Advice

If you want to become a true believer in ride-sharing programs, just drive to work every day in Dallas. The traffic congestion during the morning and evening commutes will challenge your nerves as well as place daily wear-and-tear on your vehicle. You’ll make sure you carry aspirin with you to relieve the headache created from the arduous trek alone into the city.

Carpooling allows people who live and work near each other or in the same office, to take turns driving to work. There are a variety of benefits which make this type of commute attractive. It saves money in weekly gas payments and vehicle maintenance; if there is a designated driver and car, you will also save on expensive loan payments. Travel time is often minimized as vehicles with two or more people are allowed to ride in high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, breezing by congestion in other lanes.

You may form your own carpool or take advantage of ride-share programs offered by public transit agencies. For instance, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), which operates the area’s rail and bus systems, has a vanpooling program which accommodates 10-15 passengers. For as little as $53 a month, 10 people can ride to work each day in a DART van. DART trains drivers who are a part of the carpool and have good driving records, to operate its 15-passenger van and drive carpoolers each day. While passengers have to pay to ride each month, drivers participate for free.

Ridesharing is Risky

Carpooling carries the potential for vehicle accidents just as driving alone. Whether you make an informal carpool agreement or participate in a public ride-share program, you should beware of the risks involved. If you are driving and cause an accident due to your own carelessness and passengers are injured, you will be held responsible for their injuries. If you’ve been in an accident that wasn’t caused by you, the website of notes, “You deserve to be compensated for all medical bills, lost wages and any other damage caused.” Your passengers can sue you if they can prove that your negligence caused their injuries. For instance, if your passengers told you to slow down because you were speeding, they can testify that they were injured because you ignored their warning.

If you decide to become a carpool driver, it’s important that you carry more than the minimum amount of automobile liability insurance coverage in case of accidents. It’s worth discussing this matter with your insurance company if you decide to get involved in a ride-share program.

What to do if You’re Injured

If you’re a passenger, obtain a police report and get personal information from the driver and others involved in the accident for your records. Be prepared to give police officers a statement about the accident.

If you were injured and file a claim, you will more than likely receive a settlement from the driver’s insurance company. However, the settlement may not fully cover your medical expenses or wages you lost due to your injury. If the insurance company won’t budge on its offer, then you will need to contact an experienced personal injury attorney.

Texas’ personal injury law is complicated to begin with, and being a passenger in a carpool adds another layer to the issue. A personal injury attorney will help you receive the benefits you are entitled to under law and protect your rights in the process.

Carpooling has great economic and ecological advantages since it’s been shown to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. As long as the drivers are responsible, and experienced in driving safely, the benefits greatly overwhelm the risks.

Teresa Stewart enjoys learning about means to reduce waste and the load on our environment. She shares information on ride sharing which can offer multiple personal benefits and reduce our carbon footprint.  

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