Jump in the Pool: How Carpooling Can Add Up to Big Savings in California
Many locales in California are notorious for having horrible traffic—from Los Angeles to San Francisco—and it often doesn’t seem to matter what time of day it is, whether the roadways are under construction, or how many additional streets or freeways are built. It’s such a persistent issue that most residents of the state have simply accepted it as a way of life…and an extra expense.
From the significant amount of fuel wasted sitting in rush-hour traffic, to high gas prices and excessive wear-and-tear on your vehicle, driving solo can really drain your wallet. Carpooling, on the other hand, could save you time, money, and hassle.
The cost of driving in California
Even though gas prices have been slowly decreasing, your daily commute can take a toll on your bank account as those fill-ups add up. According to AAA.com, the average price of standard gasoline in California is sitting just above $3 per gallon, making it the most expensive state in the country in which to purchase gas.
With an average U.S. commute distance of 30 miles round-trip, driving can be an expensive endeavor, indeed (especially considering toll roads and stop-and-go traffic). By carpooling, you could stand to save some significant money on fuel, tolls and other driving costs. Here, we explain just how easy carpooling in California can be.
Utilize the carpool lane (aka HOV lane) to save on gas and time
The left-most lane—typically marked off by a solid white line and a diamond-shaped indicator—is the HOV (or high-occupancy vehicle) lane. If you’ve got 2 or more passengers in your car (including yourself), you’re allowed to drive in this lane at any time of day, when the gates are open. It can not only save you a ton of time and money by avoiding excessive idling in rush-hour traffic, but traveling at a consistent speed has been proven to improve your vehicle’s mileage.
Take advantage of carpool apps for shorter trips
Carpooling apps like Waze (which is owned by Google and available to all Californians) are innovating the way people get around town—whether you and a group of friends split the cost of a ride after a night out, or you just need to head home from the grocery store.
Waze riders essentially pay the driver a small amount to cover the cost of gas as well as wear-and-tear on their vehicle. The company has somehow hit the monetary sweet spot to keep both riders and drivers happy—how’s that for a win-win?
The app limits the stipend drivers receive to below the Federal standard reimbursement of 54 cents per mile (in the event Federal employees use their own cars for business purposes). By doing so, Waze avoids some regulatory fees, and puts the difference toward wear-and-tear on the Waze driver’s vehicle. In this way, it also keeps prices down when compared to the cost of using other rideshare companies.
Get a carpool going with your coworkers to cut down on car wear-and-tear
There’s a good chance that at least a few of your coworkers live either near you or somewhere along your route to work. There’s no need to take separate vehicles when you can simply coordinate schedules to ride together.
When each coworker takes turns being the driver, no one is left with all the expense and responsibility, and it helps all passengers save money on gas as well as vehicle wear-and-tear. Plus, you get a chance to catch up with your coworkers and get to know each other better outside the office.
Carpooling works best when you have a dependable Plan B in place, like the subway, Uber or Lyft, in case something comes up and you need to go to the doctor, run an errand or pick up the kids on a day you didn’t drive.
Save money on your auto insurance by putting fewer miles on your car
In most states, your average annual mileage is a rating factor that helps your auto insurance company determine your premium. By carpooling some of the time, you’ll put fewer miles on your car, which could save you some money on insurance.
Plus, if you’re not the one driving, you’re obviously not at risk for any at-fault collisions or other mishaps (which can obviously affect your rates, too). Just be sure to be a good passenger (wear a seatbelt, no yelling or backseat driving, no aggression toward other drivers, etc.)
Carpooling in California could help save you a bundle
For all the aforementioned reasons, carpooling in the Golden State could help cushion your wallet and give you a little extra cash to save (or spend on all the awesome things your unique locale has to offer). In a state that has the highest gas prices in the country, every little bit helps—and it’s better for our beautiful environment, too!