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What is Casual Carpool?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 13 December 2014
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A casual carpool is an interesting concept that has arisen due to the large number of drivers who must commute to distances far from home on a regular basis. Highways are often set up with carpool or diamond lanes, which can be used by commuters with two to three or more passengers. These theoretically make a commute go more quickly. Also, many toll bridges waive the toll for those who are carpooling, which results in a little money saved by the driver.

Instead of the more formal carpool arrangements between friends or co-workers, a casual carpool, also called slugging, is informally arranged. People often set up Internet sites in order to quickly find a ride to the city they need, and the riders don’t have to pay the drivers any money. Those looking for a ride merely scan the Internet site for their area, and might communicate with a driver the night before. Usually the only thing they need is to be at a designated location by a certain time, so the drivers do not have to go out of their way to pick up people in diverse areas. Casual carpool locations are usually next to freeway entrances.

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A person can prearrange the casual carpool to be guaranteed a seat, or he or she may have to take his chances by showing up at a casual carpool site. It’s often a first-come, first-served deal. The driver will only take the people who show up first. Thus the early casual carpooler usually catches the ride if no formal arrangement exists with the driver. This can mean that some people might not get a ride. Yet, the casual carpool has worked so well in most suburban areas with a large commuting population that one can generally quickly find a ride to a major city.

The casual carpool is a great idea, but some writers on this subject cite it as a perfectly safe mode of transportation. In actuality, it cannot be perfectly safe, since you don’t know your driver, his/her driving abilities, and could potentially be hooking up with a predator. Websites frequently rate casual carpool drivers. For safety, it’s best not to accept a ride from someone who is not known by regular casual carpoolers.

A casual carpool may work both for morning and evening commute hours. Since people have differing schedules, this means one may not ride with the same driver in the morning as one does in the evening. If a bridge toll is expected, despite the carpool status, it’s considered good etiquette to offer one half to one third of the toll, depending upon how many total passengers are in the car.

A few other etiquette rules apply for the person who’d like to try a casual carpool. You should allow drivers to initiate conversation. Some people really don’t like talking while they’re driving, while others may want to share their life stories with you. Consider the size of other passengers. If you’re traveling in a car with three people, and one person is taller than you, offer them the front seat. Don’t chat on controversial subjects or criticize drivers, and also don’t turn on the radio without asking permission. Do be on time as you’re liable to lose your ride otherwise, and don’t ask the driver to go out of his/her way.

Most Internet sites that offer casual carpool listings and locations also include places to report drivers that cause problems. You should definitely jot down license plate numbers of people who have harassed you, or who have driven so poorly that you fear for your life. Also if you are in an accident in a casual carpool, you should definitely get the complete information on the driver in case you have injuries.

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