The Future of Transportation

OP-ED by Stephanie Larson

With the interstate building project of the 1950s, most U.S. cities suddenly became connected by paved roads. What was once dirt and gravel roads became paved asphalt highways. For car lovers, these highways were a dream come true. Drivers finally had long stretches of paved roads where they could see what their vehicles could do.

Some thought the interstate system was the future of transportation, but technology is advancing and changing how drivers get around. Here are some automotive advances you should watch for in the coming years.

1. Self-Driving Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles are already here, and several car manufacturers have models slowly making their way up the guideline levels set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. There are four levels and two sub-levels vehicles have to pass before considered fully-automatic and safe to drive.

Most self-driving models are at level one. The vehicle reliably provides drivers with warnings and information. Some vehicles are in the early stages of level 2 for automated parking and highway driving. However, Google is currently the company ahead at level four. While the company’s vehicle is fully-automated there are still a few glitches that need to be worked out.

Soon, your car may be the one driving instead of you.

2. All Electric Vehicles

Hybrid vehicles are becoming more common as technology progresses. The batteries are capable of holding a charge longer and the vehicles are getting a little bigger instead of smaller. All electric models still won’t be larger than a small sedan for quite some time.

One of the appeals electric vehicles have is its simple components. Without the need for gasoline, several components will no longer be necessary. The essentially scale-downed vehicles are also expected to cost consumers less in the purchase price and maintenance.

These advancements in technology have even lead Bloomberg New Energy Finance to predict electric vehicles will comprise 35 percent of worldwide car sales by 2040.

3. Self-Driving Electric Vehicles

It’s not uncommon for technologies to mix. Smart cars owe their intelligence to computer technology. It’s not too far-fetched to imagine smart electric cars. Automobile manufacturers with eminent plans to release self-driving technology in 2022 now include giants like Ford. However, the automotive giant plans on using the technology in their hybrid vehicles first.

In the future, ride share services like Uber and others could do away with their drivers. When you use the app to order a ride, a self-driving electric vehicle shows up. Instead of bus drivers and train operators, public transportation could also become fully automated, along with electrically powered.

With these vehicles, you are the passenger.

What These Changes Mean For You

It’s impossible to stop technology advancing and this means changes, even in transportation. Self-driving cars, both gas and electric will be on the roads in the future. However, this doesn’t mean that your love of the open road has to change.

Electric cars don’t have the ‘oomph’ that an 8-cyllander engine has. Self-driving vehicles are still crashing into things on road tests. However, these glitches will be fixed, and these automobiles will become a common sight on the interstate.

There is one thing that will remain the same regardless of how far technology goes. Vehicle maintenance will always be important. Even self-driving electric vehicles need regular tune-ups. You will also want to keep an eye on the battery condition. This is something that you should still be doing regularly whether you drive a hybrid or have a gas engine.

The Future of Mass Transit

Even if you don’t typically take a form of public transportation you still expect to see city buses on the roads, along with light rail and trains in some major metropolitan areas. However, the future of mass transit might be in doubt.

The number of riders is down in the U.S. and other major cities across the globe and some people are wondering if this is the end of mass transit. While mass transit isn’t going away, at least in the foreseeable future, there will be some changes that riders will either love or hate.

Mass Transit in the Future

The number of annual riders on public mass transit systems has been declining over the years. Some of the decline is attributed to more affordable automobile pricing, along with drops in some types of vehicle insurance premiums.

Health concerns, both in the past and present, are also contributing to the drop in daily riders.

Having more room on buses and subway trains seems like a positive. It’ll be easier to find a seat, even during busy morning commutes. Social distancing also won’t be as big of a problem with fewer riders.

However, there is a serious downside to you being able to easily find a seat. The loss of riders means that less money is coming in. These are the funds that are used for maintenance, repairs, and even improvements. Without this money, mass transit will not be able to survive.

This doesn’t mean that public mass systems around the world are accepting the fact they might be obsolete. They have a few ideas that will keep mass transit operating well into the future.

Rental Vehicles

Scooters, bikes, and even electric mini cars are entering the mass transit system. In an effort to stay relevant, mass transit is expanding away from crowded buses and trains. How the system works is simple. Riders, using a credit card or token, rent the vehicle for a specific amount of time, returning it to one of the rental kiosks when they’re finished.

You will still be able to get around the city, even if you don’t own a vehicle. Best of all, you’ll never have to worry about finding a seat. These rental kiosks are showing up in major cities around the world.

Smart Buses

We already have smart cars and some light rail systems are also automated. Mass transit is also working on incorporating smart buses into their fleet.

The public transport app is being developed and has been granted a license to run a smart fleet in London. San Francisco also isn’t far behind in starting a fleet. The advantage of a smart bus will be its smaller size that will be better equipped to navigate narrow and crowded city streets.

Underwater Mass Transit

This doesn’t apply to all cities and the cost is expensive. England and France have The Channel Tunnel or ‘Chunnel’ as it’s referred to. Consisting of three tunnels – two are used for freight and passenger trains and the other for service and maintenance.

Some cities around the world are discussing the possibility of adding underwater tunnels to their mass transit system but this will be in the future if or when it happens.

Conclusion

Even though public mass transit systems are taking a financial hit, it doesn’t seem to mean the end of city buses and trains. Instead, it is forcing cities and transit administration to come up with new and innovative ideas to ensure their future.

The Business of Trucks

It should reassure the average commuter; how many safety procedures are built into the business of trucking just so that it can function day to day.

As trainee truck drivers begin their learning journey by adjusting to the different feel of driving a big rig when compared to other vehicles. One aspect is the length and being aware of your large blind spots. Another is reaction time and stopping time and maintaining following distance.

Another big difference when driving truck is the brakes need to so much larger than a conventional vehicle. Even the way the brakes are applied can make all the difference. How much extra distance can depend on payload. Any liquid tanker will require a special license because the stopping distance over a regular big rig is around 30% extra.

Perhaps the aspect of driving truck that car drivers don’t think of first is that truck drivers are situated higher up with potentially a better view to any potential danger. They also have blind spots right up front. When you are too close you might not be able to observe the danger and that is when mishaps could occur.

All drivers must consider things like rain, ice and snow when deciding speed and safe following distance but truck drivers must get used to even more buffer when in inclement weather. While a truck driver is seldom at risk of dying in a crash they are more at risk of killing someone, so job safety is a priority.

The real problems come with the drivers who have to explore the Ice Roads in Alaska and Canada. Here especially is where stopping can be the difference between life and death.

When watching out for other vehicles the biggest challenges come from the fact that other drivers aren’t familiar with big rigs. Vehicles often tailgate trucks or weave in and out of traffic in a way that makes it difficult to predict their next move. It’s hard on any vehicle to deal with erratic drivers, but given the need for maximum stopping distance, it’s extra hard for truckers.

By the same token a truck causes more agitation when weaving or constantly changing lanes. If you discover a truck behaving like this you should give it a wide berth.

Trucks often accelerate at a slower rate even if they can go faster, because the dangers of navigating an intersection require time you don’t have when speeding.

ELD

With the latest of ELD or Electronic Tracking Device records any accident but remember that all computers are not the same and data needs to be interpreted. There’s too much detail contained in these “truck black boxes” to go into here, but the gist is this, truck drivers are monitored for how they drive and how long they’ve been driving so that fatigue isn’t an issue.

For obvious reasons, truck drivers oppose ELDs and prefer manual logs. But they day is fast approaching when ELDs will be required.

Hazmats

A dangerous good (also known as hazardous material or HazMat) may be explosives, flammable gases and liquids and even flammable solids, substances which react violently to water, poisonous materials, infections and radioactive substances. Some HazMats are so large that can cause damage to property if transported incorrectly. More HazMats are transported by truck than rail or ship.

If you are travelling hazardous material you need to have a placard on the truck which isn’t damaged, deteriorating or obscured. The placarding must comply to Hazmat standards.

The more complex the substance the more the urgency the need for a truck to be well-driven. When a dangerous substance needs to be taken from one place to another it all becomes hugely significant when problems do occur.

Specialty Trucks

While all big rig trucks, or tractor trailers have a standard design many are built for a special purpose. The fire service uses trucks made by Alexis. Marion on the other hand make garbage trucks and Oshkosh makes military trucks.

This is a small bit of the information about trucks, but we hope it helps you share the road with these lumbering giants.

The Minimal Car Which Could Get Anywhere.

There are huge number of public spaces in European towns, especially in Italy, tight areas where it would be hard for sedans to navigate. Whether the roads are too rough, or the area is designated to pedestrians, it is not a place for normal cars. Added to this are car-free islands where there is no way to transport anything substantial to the place.

Is there a Motorized Vehicle Solution?

This is where you need some kind of minimalist car. What is a minimalist car? Well there are a few examples already in existence, and if the market demands it, perhaps they will design more.

In Slovenia, for instance, where the elderly and the infirm are moved about by Ljubjani or slow-moving taxis. But there are hundreds of such regions from the Spandau of Berlin to the Renaissance Quarter of Seville. There must be a market here for mini vehicles?

Such was the concept that Giorgetto Guigiaro hoped to innovate. One of the chief designers of Italdesign, he had created a number of specialist cars like the famous Delorean. Giorgetto was ahead of his time, thinking up concepts like ride-sharing long before others created it. Could he create a car that narrowed everything down to the basic essentials, for use in these urban enclaves where other cars cannot go?

A New Approach to A New Type of Car

In terms of car design, Italdesign does a little of everything, including creating prototypes for automobiles and design validation. At least according to their website. It’s not clear how validation differs from testing, maybe it’s about getting from a prototype to a product that can enter the market.

Guigiaro planned to get a minimalist car to market by 1992, but there’s little point in researching a new vehicle unless you plan for some kind of success. Previous attempts at minimalist cars, like the Sinclair C5, had a toy car look and feel. These cars embraced their identity as novelty cars and therefore had no mass marketability.

The car that Guigiaro came up with was the Biga, one of the first electric cars. This type of car looks more like a small van than a car and it has been built to save space.

Which parts did the vehicle need and what could be left out?

To look at the Biga from the outside you might find it hard to believe it is possible for this tiny a vehicle to transport four people. The way round this is to only to have the driver’s seat where it usually is. The other three seats are at 90° from the driver’s seat and access is only available through a back door. If each seat had its own door this would take up needless space.

You might have thought that the Biga was made of fiberglass, but it was actually made of a lightweight steel. The overall effect is a cube on wheels. Like a number of compact cars since, the Biga can be parked at right angles to the sidewalk (where the law permits), this allows you to easily fit three Biga’s in the length of two normal parking spots.

Not all cars can be Cadiallacs, there are hundreds of vehicles that aren’t there for the mass market. It’s hard to find accurate sales of the Biga. It would be difficult to judge those numbers in context if you found them. The reason is that the Biga is a cross between a novelty car and a mass market production vehicle—more in the category of a four-wheel drive off-road vehicle, only most off-road vehicles are still able to serve as a daily driver in a pinch. The Biga is the type of car which encourages creative thought and solves a problem, rather than one that makes a huge impression. So it makes a splash in its own way.

Covid Roads and Borders…What’s New

Revised 4/20/2020 (links updated.)

Things seems to have changed since the end of March when it was reported that 85% of Americans traveled to work by car but now, thanks to the virus it seems that congestion is easing. It may be quicker to your designated place but due to the lack of open shops, restaurants and so on there may be less reason to get there.

A Heatmap of Seattle for Instance:

An aerial “heatmap” of the streets shows that the majority of roads have no traffic at all. It’s a similar story with San Francisco but somehow there are still a number of bottlenecks here where congestion has built up. This doesn’t include areas round ports and airports as neither are working at full capacity.

Washington DC seems off-script though as its traffic is up 47℅ and this must surely be governmental traffic. Although other countries are allowing its bureaucrats to govern through computers, the internet and teleworking the USA is taking the all hands on deck approach to governance where they crowd everyone into business as usual and hope John Q Public doesn’t wonder why its safe for them and not you. This is according to Government Executive, a trade journal.

The Northern Boarder:

It’s a stressful period for the Canada/US borders. Drivers who test positive for Corvid-19 may be denied entry and have to self-isolate for 14 days. Anyone passing through must state whether they have a cough or fever.

There wasn’t any legislation against services like Fed-Ex when crossing these borders at the end of March, but this appears to have altered.

If this situation continues trucks will find it difficult to reach shops and there will be a shortage of product if this carries on much longer. Although food trucks are still allowed to operate there’s a break in the supply chain. As well as food trucks, equipment for hospitals and raw materials (such as materials to build ventilators, masks and soap) must be transported. So, its hard to really be critical of what is and what isn’t “essential.”

Because of the urgency of these journeys, some regulations about off-road breaks have been suspended, meaning that they might work more than 14 hours a day. They have been told to stop driving if they feel drowsy.

While some states are allowing restaurants in general to remain open others have restricted all but Drivers’ cafes, but usually only to serve take out. There are reports of truck drivers taking care to wash down their trucks and wash their hands. It’s important to stay vigilant at this time.

There is a curfew in New Jersey between the hours of 10am and 5pm so it’s impossible to drive at night. At various state boundaries checkpoints have been set up with officers wearing masks and keeping their distance from drivers. Every road sign in the nation is now broadcasting some sort of reminder to stay home, it seems.

You are still allowed to use buses or Ubers at this time. Many cities however have a shelter-in-place order where you can only leave home to receive food or medical supplies.

We don’t know how these procedures will be continue but it seems in order to stay safe we should stick to them for the time being, if for our own safety.

Getting Business Done With Your Car.

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Would it shock you to know that only 17% of people commute by car?!?! It does us.

Sure in part it’s a tribute to how popular commuting by motorbike, bike, train, etc. And of course, working from home has become very popular. But cars transporting workers to jobs is only one way in which cars are involved in business.

car-438029_1920.jpgAnother way to view vehicles and business is when they transport goods to consumers, delivery vehicles, or transporting people to do business away from the office. An example of the latter would be if your business involves visiting people in their own homes as a tradesman or salesperson.

There are also company owned vehicles which could be delivery vans, or work trucks, etc. but are also the company car. This is a sign of status; and an employee is advancing in the world. Companies can treat the car as an expense and write off many of the costs. (We should pointed out that only business use can be included as an expense, so you can’t get money back on ferrying your children around, visiting friends or relatives, popping down the looking store and so on.)

oldtimer-2436018_1920.jpgFor some hypocritical reason, even though an employer can write off these vehicles an employee who uses there vehicle to get to and from work cannot. Employers can, in some instances, write off more than just the lease cost. In the case of a work truck, the cost of the insurance can also be deducted.

coffee-mobile-2715696_1920.jpgMany businesses chose to lease a vehicle instead of owing it. It’s not recommended you do this if you are in the taxi business however, LOL. The good thing about leasing it that you pay the current market value for leasing rather than having a car which value depreciates the minute it is bought. You also don’t need to worry about down payments for the vehicle and worrying out whether all your cars are insured properly, you can let a third party handle that.

Despite the amount of people employed in the virtual world it seems that the link to the car and being able to visit your client or your contact won’t get away and if they are located nearby, why wouldn’t you?

There are still two types of vehicle in business.

The first is a vehicle that’s been wrapped in advertising. Many companies, and small business, are seeing their vehicles as a moving billboard and double dipping. Not only can they transport employees and good to market, they can increase brand awareness.

But the last and most interesting way to combined cars and business is the mobile office!

Business professionals are spending more and more time in their vehicles. In large cities this could mean hiring a driving service, which leaves hands and eyes free for checking emails or scheduling appointments, etc. In most of the less urban areas this looks like portable office equipment.

Here are some examples of the required equipment if you’re interested in taking your business mobile. Of course, you’ll need a laptop and cell phone. But there’s a couple more handy items that may not have leapt to mind.

Mobile Printer Wheel Desk14dc7982-0c9a-4c32-9eb5-bb534b685efa.jpg._CB328546843__SR300,300_

Work Station Work station

Battery Backup,  Steering Wheel Desk ,

Car Organizer  Car Organizer

 

Top Picks in Cars for Families in 2019

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When you have a family, you need a car that is roomy, comfortable, and safe. You want your children to have their own space to avoid those screaming fights and for the baby seat to buckle in with ease. So, what are the top picks for 2019? Here is a rundown of cars that are ideal for families in minivans and SUVs.

What Makes a Car Ideal?

You want to make sure that your vehicle is equipped with at least the standard features and that others are available should you choose. These features should include a rear camera, lane stay assist, and Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), among others.

family-932245_1920Safety testing is one of the most important parts of choosing any vehicle for your family. You want to know how it fares in an accident and how safe your family will be. Make sure you check the safety ranking for each vehicle that you look at. Specifics like crash rating and overall rating are a good place to start.

Convenience and Technology almost go hand in hand nowadays. Make sure that the vehicle you choose has the features you want or the option to add them. This can include things like remote start, remote door access, smartphone connections, touchless entry, heated seating, and more.

Following is the list of top family cars as rated by Kelly Blue Book, Cars.com, and Parents.com.

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Minivans

 

Honda Odyssey

With its top rate technology for safer driving including CMBS, Road Departure Mitigation System (RDM), Blind Spot Information System, and multi-angle rear camera, it is no wonder it has received Kelly Blue Book’s minivan best buy award. With ample seating allowing up to eight passengers and options for a rear entertainment center, your children will be happy and give you fewer distractions.

 

Chrysler Pacifica

The Chrysler Pacifica gives you the technology you are looking for and the comfort you need. This hybrid minivan has the safety features to help keep you safe like all around camera, Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) and adaptive cruise control. It also provides seven-passenger seating with stowaway seats for all of those necessities. It also has the option of dual entertainment screens and connection to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Again, keeping your children occupied while you stay in control.

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SUVs

 

Subaru Forester

The Subaru Forester has standard-on-all safety features that include EyeSight to monitor traffic. It also features optimized cruise control, lane assist technology, and automatic pre-collision braking with full braking capabilities. It has memory seating for up to five drivers and adjusts to their preferences upon entering the car. The Forester also has different entertainment packages to choose from and space for the extra cargo you may be transporting to and from the game.

 

Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V gives you room and style in one package. With convenient features like automatic adjusting wipers that sense the speed of the rain and adjust accordingly to hands-free rear entry, you will be hard pressed to find something you don’t like. Some of its safety features include lane change sensors that sense if cars are close when changing lanes, reverse sensors, multi-angle rear camera, and smart entry. The CR-V also comes with CMBS, RDM, lane assist, and adaptive cruise control. With plenty of space and stow away seats, you will be ready to go where ever the road calls.

 

Chevrolet Traverse

The Chevy Traverse gives you the comfort you want and the size that you need for a big family. With seating for eight, this SUV gives you convenience with hands-free rear entry, easy-slide seating, and hidden storage. It includes sixteen different safety features like forward collision alert, front pedestrian braking, lane keep assisting, rear vision camera and alert, lane change assist and backup assist, among others. It also comes with connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to keep your children entertained and get you safely where you need to go.

 

Volkswagen Atlas

The Volkswagen Atlas comes with seating for seven and stowaway seats for comfort no matter how big your family is. The Atlas also comes with hands-free rear entry, remote doors, driver memory for four drivers, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay, and remote start. The safety features on the Atlas include pedestrian monitoring, overhead view camera, adaptive cruise control, LKAS, and blight spot detection, light assist, and rear traffic alert. The Volkswagen Atlas gives you space, comfort, and safety you need for your family’s road trips.

 

 

5 Times You Need a Truck Rental

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A “truck rental” can mean many things from needing an extended cab to pick up a couch you scored on Craigslist to a massive moving truck to get into your dream home across state lines. If you’ve ever been a truck owner yourself, you know to steer clear of calls from friends when you’ve caught wind that they’re moving—when space and power on wheels are necessary, everyone wants access to a truck.

Unfortunately for many, truck ownership just isn’t feasible. They don’t offer the best gas mileage for a daily commuter, they can take up way too much space for an urban dweller, and they’re not going to fit into those compact spots for those who are regulars at the mall.

However, when you need a truck, you need one that’s up for the job.

  1. When You’re Moving

Whether you want to move your entire one-bedroom condo in a big moving truck or simply take the big pieces of furniture in a king cab, a truck is a must when moving. Renting a truck and loading it as well as driving it yourself can save you a lot of money. However, also keep these moving tips in mind:

  • Pack room by room as early as possible
  • Load an emergency bin last complete with favorite tools, checkbooks, and other daily necessities
  • Consider hiring professionals to at least load the truck, then drive it yourself
  • Make sure your property is insured while en route
  1. When You Bought Furniture

Consider this: The delivery fee for a single couch could be up to $100. If you buy more furniture, you might get charged per piece. It can easily cost 25 percent of that to rent a spacious truck for the entire day. The benefits of truck rental over delivery include:

  • No being stuck at home to make the “delivery window”
  • You don’t have to add tipping into the mix
  • You can take care of a number of other tasks that require a truck the same day
  • Your furniture shopping isn’t dictated by delivery fees
  1. When You’re Going on a Weekend Warrior Adventure

You have the jet skis, the inflated tubes or the snowmobiles—but now what? It doesn’t make sense to buy a truck if you only head into the great outdoors with all your gear a few times per year. Renting a truck for the weekend gives you all the space you need for great outdoor activities like:

  • Hunting and fishing
  • ATVing or snowmobiling
  • Skiing and snowboarding
  • Camping and overnight hiking

Plus, trucks can access dirt roads and rough terrain better than any commuter car. You’ll simply be in better hands behind the wheel of a truck.

  1. When You’re Headed to a Roundup

If you’ve never been to a “roundup” before—a rodeo that’s reached festival level—you’re missing out. They happen around the country and feature rodeo finals, BBQ competitions and a raucous good time. Everyone embraces their inner cowboy or cowgirl, and it’s the perfect opportunity to slip into your Wranglers, boots and a ten-gallon hat.

However, everything comes crashing down if you pull up in a Prius. Renting a truck completes the adventure, and you can finally decide which side of the fence you fall on—Ford or Chevy.

  1. When Garage Saleing or Antiquing

These are true treasure hunts and you’re never sure what you might discover—which is exactly why you need a truck. What happens if you stumble across the perfect antique secretary you’ve always wanted, but didn’t know until you saw it?

To make the most of a Saturday hitting the sales, get a truck rental just in case. It frees you up to score the deal of a lifetime.

 

Why Carpooling DOESN’T Suck If You’re Well Equipped

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Remember what a blast you had carpooling with your soccer team or best friends in school? You got to spend some fantastic time together sharing a ride, playing some car games, and bonding before it was time for school or practice for the big game. However, somewhere along the line, adults got the idea that carpooling wasn’t that great. That’s starting to change now that we’ve fully embraced the idea of ridesharing, but we still have a way to go. It’s time to re-imagine that carpool, especially if you’re considering an office carpool to avoid parking stress and the increasing cost of gas this summer.

fuel-meter-311685_1280Working with a carpool vehicle organization can help you easily connect with fellow commuters (ongoing or one-time) who are taking a similar route as you. When you go this route, not only will you get to meet new people (without feeling like you’re stuck with them for good), but you can also enjoy the convenience of having someone else pre-service the car in some cases. Every organization has different regulations, so make sure you check the details to choose a service that works for you. Carpooling doesn’t always mean you’re going to take a turn driving and/or using your own vehicle. In many cases, you’ll simply chip in for gas and get to keep your own vehicle’s wear and tear to a minimum.

Still not convinced? Here are a few perks to carpooling as an adult you’re missing out on:

  1. Avoiding the stress of driving during rush hour. Let the driver handle that. You can kick back, chat with your carpool friends, take care of business on the go, or even nap. This is your time, and there’s no need to arrive at the office with your blood pressure already spiked.
  2. Save money. The more people in a carpool, the less everyone pays. You’ll save money not only on gas but on parking fees and the upkeep of putting more miles on your own vehicle.
  3. Enjoy good karma by being kind to the environment. It’s very unlikely that every person actually needs to drive themselves—and only themselves—to work. Lighten your carbon footprint and you’ll feel better about your commute. That good feeling will snowball into perks in other aspects of your life.
  4. Up your social game. Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to make friends as adults? Carpooling gives you an entirely new opportunity to meet people you otherwise wouldn’t. In some situations, there might be different folks in every carpool so every commute is unique. You might make new friends and not “waste” any time doing so. Either way, you need to commute, so why not widen your social circle in the process?
  5. Save time. Do you spend too many minutes looking for a parking space? Carpooling can drop you off right at the entrance so you’ll save some of the most precious commodity of all.

Challenge yourself to give carpooling a chance at least once a week and see what a difference it can make.