Updated 02 July 2014

Going my way?

Car pooling is the neglected old faithful of sustainable transport that's been around since World War II as a way to save fuel.

Car pooling / ride sharing / car sharing / lift sharing / lift clubbing remains woefully underused, even though we have far greater need of it now to ease our cities’ massive problems with traffic congestion and air pollution, than we did in the 1940s.

A single-occupant vehicle should be an odd sight, but it’s a shamefully common one – the norm rather than the exception on our clogged roads.

But the internet and cellphone may be changing this state of affairs, by making is much easier for ride-sharers to connect with each other. The web-based Liftshare South Africa offers a free, secure service to help you find others going your way so you can share the journey, cutting costs and emissions. This can also make road travel more sociable and safer, especially if your trip is long, at night, or into an unfamiliar area.

One potential problem with this promising initiative is that South Africans are rightly wary of hitching lifts or offering rides to strangers. However, not unlike online dating safety, a bit of common sense renders the risk negligible. As explained on the Liftshare web site:

“Members' details are stored securely in the database and only their intended travel information can be accessed by other members.

“When it comes to travelling, every member is responsible for his or her own safety. However we recommend some simple security measures:
  • Avoid exchanging home addresses with your travelling companions before you meet them.
  • Arrange to meet for the first time in a public place.
  • Inform a friend or family member of who you will be travelling with, when and to where.
  • Make sure you see each other's IDs so you know you're travelling with the right person.
"You are under no obligation to go ahead with any car-share arrangement. If you have any doubts about your travelling companion, for any reason, you don't have to travel with them.

"It is your responsibility to check that the person you are sharing with has all the legal driving documents."

Liftshare South Africa is affiliated with, the world’s largest liftsharing network. Carpoolworld is a similar concept, where you can look for rides all over the world.

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