There are many benefits to
ridesharing, some more obvious than others. If you are not sure if
ridesharing is for you, consider the following.
Ridesharing can save you money!
Simply put when you carpool, you will
drive less and save money. These savings come from reduced maintenance
costs (e.g., less frequent oil and air filter changes), savings on
gasoline, and some insurance companies offer carpoolers reduced auto
insurance rates. In their “Your Driving Costs 2003” brochure, the
American Automobile Association estimates it costs the average driver
45 cents a mile for maintenance, insurance, license, registration,
depreciation, finance charges and taxes. If two people living nearby
were to ride together on the 50-mile round trip commute each day and
split the driving, each would save more than $3400 in commuting costs
over the course of a year.
Ridesharing can help to improve air
Automobiles and light trucks are
considered the largest contributors to air quality problems in the
United States. According to 1998 EPA estimates, passenger cars and
light trucks accounted for 27% of total hydrocarbon emissions, 51% of
the nation’s carbon monoxide (CO) emissions, 20% of the total nitrogen
oxide (NOx) emissions and 18% of nation wide carbon dioxide (CO2)
emissions. With the exception of CO2, these pollutants are products of
incomplete combustion of gasoline or diesel fuels.
Hydrocarbons react with nitrogen
oxides in the presences of sunlight and sustained elevated
temperatures to produce ground level ozone. Ground level ozone, a
major component of photochemical smog, contributes to respiratory
problems such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. Sustained
exposure to high ozone levels can lead to permanent lung damage. Young
children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing respiratory
ailments are most susceptible to respiratory affects from exposure to
ozone. Oxides of nitrogen also contribute to the formation of acid
rain while carbon monoxide exposure can impair mental function and
Carbon dioxide is one of several
greenhouse gases that scientists now believe contribute to the
climatic phenomena called global warming. Greenhouses gases are
defined as any gas that absorbs infrared radiation in the atmosphere.
Greenhouse gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane
(CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), halogenated fluorocarbons (HCFCs), ozone
(O3), perfluorinated carbons (PFCs), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
According to EPA, based on global
warming potentials, carbon dioxide accounts for over 80 percent of
total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. In 1997,
transportation sources accounted for approximately 31 percent of
carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion (or 460.4 million
metric tons of carbon dioxide) in the United States.
Ridesharing conserves non-renewable
Two-thirds of the oil used in the
United States is used to power transportation vehicles and half is
consumed by passenger cars and light trucks according to DOE
estimates. In 2001, 55 percent of the oil used in the US was imported.
This level of dependence on imports is the highest in our history, and
will increase as we use up domestic resources.
According to US 1995 DOT/FHA Highway
Statistics, the average passenger car had a fuel economy rating of
22.5 miles per gallon while the average light truck was at 15.3 miles
per gallon. With many Americans purchasing less fuel efficient
sports-utility vehicles over the last several years, the average fuel
economy of vehicles has not increased. Assuming a 50-mile round trip
commute, two persons ridesharing five days per week would save 533
gallons of gas if the vehicle taken off the road was a passenger car,
and 784 gallons would be conserved if the vehicle removed from the
road was a light truck.
Ridesharing might save you some
If your commute is a long one you may
find yourself frequently fighting heavy traffic. If you rideshare, you
can use the carpool lane on the expressway.