For a number of years, car sharing has unlocked many benefits for both driver and passenger. Whether travelling to work or school, or simply going about your daily business, sharing a car with a group of people ensures reduced costs for all. Car sharing ultimately makes car ownership more efficient and inexpensive, and the process of commuting less stressful and costly for passengers.
Car sharing is not only great for your purse strings, it’s great for the planet! Passengers after all don’t need to own their own vehicles thanks to a convenient car share. There’s fewer vehicles out there as a result, less air pollution, less need for parking, and lower wear for roads. With the increase in car sharing also comes the development of other transport and mobility infrastructures, with passengers more likely to walk, cycle or use other modes of transportation outside their usual car share.
Whilst the rules and restrictions related to Covid-19 are now easing and people from all walks of life are embracing a new normal post-lockdown, the guidance surrounding car sharing has been a little difficult to follow. With the cooler months on their way and the possibility of further restrictions to prevent a second wave of coronavirus, getting clued up on how to travel safely is important.
Here we take a closer look at the current car sharing rules and how to adapt your approach to that daily, shared commute with safety in mind.
Why was car sharing banned in the UK?
During nationwide lockdown, travel of any kind was discouraged. Only key workers were permitted to travel for work purposes, which led to the scaling back of public transport and also the banning of car sharing back in May.
For the first time ever, car sharing and hitchhiking were prohibited by the UK government, with regulations only permitting travel in a private vehicle either alone or with members of your own household. This presented a huge issue for those still needing to travel to work, particularly for previous car sharers who did not own their own vehicle. As a result, the nation saw an unprecedented surge in public transport use, which in turn increased the risk of coronavirus transmission.
The AA was the first to criticise the government’s blanket ban on car sharing, which meant that the practical and safer alternative to using public transport was removed.
Car sharing is now allowed – but with some tweaks
Just a couple of months later, as lockdown measures began to ease, the government did a much applauded U-turn in regards to car sharing.
As of the 4th July, with up to two households now able to meet indoors for the first time and overnight stays permitted for people in support bubbles since lockdown was instated, the government advised that car sharing was now permitted if it could not be avoided.
They advised that travel with people outside of your household in a private vehicle should be undertaken with the same people every time to avoid the spread of infection. The benefits of wearing a face covering during the car share were also touched on with Department for Transport (DfT) guidance stating that:
“There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms.”
Cleaning your vehicle between journeys, opening the vehicle’s windows, and getting passengers to face away from each other was also advised to reduce the risk of infection.
What are the car sharing rules now?
The shared transport sector is playing a vital role in the recovery of our economy as more companies get back to business and an increasing number of people return to the workplace.
As people look to avoid overcrowded public transport on their daily commute, car sharing provides a safer alternative for those who do not drive or don’t own their own vehicle – providing that the aforementioned guidance is followed. Precautions like keeping the car windows open throughout the journey and wearing face coverings are gaining stronger support as studies show that coronavirus spreads faster in enclosed spaces when compared with the rate of transmission outdoors.
Passengers are encouraged to avoid touching surfaces where possible, with cleaning in between journeys still recommended. Talking loudly, shouting or singing; facing each other; and sharing with lots of different people from day to day could also reduce the risk of infection significantly.
Is hiring a car of my own a safer alternative?
If you can drive but don’t own your own vehicle, and don’t want to put yourself or your family at an increased risk by car sharing, hiring a rental car may provide the perfect solution.
The safest way to travel is still travelling alone or with members of your own household within a private vehicle. You can hire a vehicle for use within your family for any occasion, including for everyday use, commuting and school runs. We offer a wide range of rental vehicles for all budgets to ensure you find the right hire vehicle for your needs.
Here at Collison Vehicle Rental, we are fully committed to the care of our customers and our team. That’s why we’ve introduced various safety measures to ensure you can hire the right vehicle completely contactless during these unsettling times. Discover more about the Covid-19 measures we have in place at our showroom here.