Darren Hall, Travel Plan Co-ordinator at Dstl advises on the challenges and solutions to encouraging employees to share cars to work
Most businesses considering promoting car sharing to their employees do so as a result of implementing a travel plan that encourages staff to commute to work by means other than single occupancy car travel.
This may be due to several factors, such as a planning obligation linked to a new development, a lack of onsite parking provision or simply a desire to reduce the environmental impact of its and its employees’ activities
Whatever the organisation’s motive, the overriding principle to keep in mind is: “Be ready for and preempt the reasons staff will give as to why car sharing won’t work for them”.
Here are some of the many reasons cited by staff as to why they can’t car share and my suggested responses/solutions to them.
“I don’t know anyone who lives near me”
You can establish a car share database where staff can find suitable car share partners, either by linking to or promoting Local Authority car sharing sites or car sharing schemes, such as liftshare.com or rideshark.com.
These public sites are free to join. However, if your organisation wishes to have its own private car share group (to reassure your staff that they will only be sharing with others in their organisation) then there will be a cost to set up the database and annual license fees to pay.
“I don’t think I am insured to car share”
Generally speaking, your car insurance will cover you to car share but it is always best to let your insurer know. Your insurers will usually allow you to accept money from your car share partner to cover fuel and running costs. The main thing to remember is that you are not permitted to make a profit as this could invalidate your insurance.
I encourage you to check out the ‘What are the legal and insurance implications of car-sharing?’ https://liftshare.com/uk/community/faqs. This site gives you specific information on what you can and cannot do.
I also recommend that you check out Liftshare’s cost calculator as this also provides you with a suggested contribution that would cover your costs but not enable you to make a profit, so keeping your insurers happy.
“I can’t car share as I may have to get home quickly for an emergency”
This reason seems major barrier to car sharing and although it sounds expensive to resolve, it isn’t. What’s required is a safety net “emergency ride home scheme”.
The scheme is simple: if a car share partner needs to leave in an emergency or if they are unwell, they are assured that they will be able to do so. Research has shown that such emergency ride home schemes are not expensive to operate as they tend not to be abused or used frequently.
That said, it is always best to put in some safeguards:
- Staff frequently making use of the scheme should be encouraged to review their car sharing arrangements if the current arrangement appears not to be working.
- Establish rules that the scheme can only be activated for genuine unforeseen emergencies
It is always important to remember that the first time when a car-sharing employee needs to leave urgently and is let down by the scheme will probably not car share again.
“I often stay late at work or go elsewhere after work”
This reason is often cited and a pragmatic response is probably best. For instance, why not promote the benefits of car sharing just once or twice a week or when business and home commitment arrangement permit?
The hardest part of encouraging people to car share is getting them to make the first step. After a car sharing group has been established, even if it’s only on a once a week basis, it’s easier to encourage the group to increase the number of days that they car share.
As an encouragement, I cite this statistic from liftshare.com “If half of UK motorists received a lift one day a week, congestion and pollution would be reduced by 10% and traffic jams by 20%”.
“If I car share, would I get a parking space?”
An easy and quick win for companies wishing to boost car sharing is to establish dedicated car sharers parking spaces close to their building entrances. Providing such spaces rewards existing car sharers and is an incentive to others to car share.
The trick is to establish the optimum number of dedicated car spaces. It is a good idea to have a few dedicated spaces free to encourage new staff members into car sharing. However, do get the balance right: too many empty dedicated car parking spaces could cause a backlash from single occupancy car drivers unable to find a parking space!