Ridesharing Benefits

There are many benefits to ridesharing, some more obvious than others. If you are not sure if ridesharing is for you, consider the following.

Ridesharing can save you money!

Simply put, when you carpool, you will drive less and save money. These savings come from reduced maintenance costs (e.g., less frequent oil and air filter changes), savings on gasoline, and some insurance companies offer carpoolers reduced auto insurance rates.

The American Automobile Association estimates in their “Your Driving Costs” 2011 brochure, that it costs the average driver who drives 15,000 miles per year, 56.6 cents a mile for maintenance, insurance, license, registration, depreciation, finance charges and taxes. This estimate is based on fuel costs of $2.88 per gallon. With Long Island average pump prices of $3.89 as of April 5, 2011, the average cost per driving a vehicle getting 22 miles per gallon, the jumps to 61.2 cents per mile. In this scenario, if two people living nearby were to ride together on the 50-mile round trip commute each day and split the driving, each would save more than $3400 in commuting costs over the course of a year.

Ridesharing can help to improve air quality!

Automobiles and light trucks are considered the largest contributors to air quality problems in the U S. According to 2008 EPA estimates, passenger cars and light trucks accounted for 22 percent of total hydrocarbon emissions, 50 percent of the nation’s carbon monoxide (CO) emissions, 32 percent of the total nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and 18 percent of nationwide greenhouse gas emissions.

Ground level ozone is produced when hydrocarbons react with nitrogen oxides in the presences of sunlight under sustained elevated temperatures. Ground level ozone, a major component of photochemical smog, contributes to respiratory problems such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. Sustained exposure to high ozone levels can lead to permanent lung damage. Young children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing respiratory ailments are most susceptible to respiratory affects from exposure to ozone.

Oxides of nitrogen also contribute to the formation of acid rain. Acid rain is a broad term referring to the deposited materials from the atmosphere containing higher than normal amounts of nitric and sulfuric acids. It occurs when NOx and sulfur dioxide react with water and oxygen in the atmosphere to form various acidic compounds. Lakes and streams become acidic when the water itself and its surrounding soil cannot buffer the acid rain sufficiently to neutralize the acids. When the buffering capacity of soils is reduced, acid rain causes aluminum in the soil to be released into streams and lakes. Aluminum is highly toxic to many species of aquatic organisms including trout, bass, snails, clams and crayfish.

Exposure to elevated atmospheric concentration of carbon monoxide can be particularly dangerous to people with heart disease as it can reduce the flow of oxygen into the bloodstream.

Scientists now believe that greenhouse gas emissions from man-made sources contribute to the climatic phenomena referred to as climate change or global warming. Greenhouses gases are defined as any gas that absorbs infrared radiation in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), halogenated fluorocarbons (HCFCs), ozone (O3), perfluorinated carbons (PFCs), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

Ridesharing helps to reduce the number of vehicles on the road, which in turn reduces vehicular air pollution. The table below shows the emissions produced by the average properly maintained passenger car and light truck on the road in 2008 based published data from the US DOT Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Annual Emissions for the "Average" Passenger Car and Light Truck

  Pollutant Emission Factor (grams/mile) Annual Emissions (lbs) *
Passenger Car Hydrocarbons 0.78 21
Carbon Monoxide 8.84 234
Nitrogen Oxides 0.66 17
Carbon Dioxide 364 9,631
Light Truck** Hydrocarbons 0.97 26
Carbon Monoxide 11.22 297
Nitrogen Oxides 0.93 25
Carbon Dioxide 519 13,732
* Emissions estimates presume average annual mileage of 12,000.
** Light trucks include pickups, vans, minivans, and sports-utility vehicles.

Ridesharing conserves non-renewable energy resources!

According to DOE estimates for 2008, 70 percent of the oil used in the US is used to by the transportation sector and roughly forty-four percent was consumed by passenger cars and light trucks. In 2009, 51 percent of the oil used in the US was imported, down from 58 percent in 2007.

With more higher mileage models available in the market, Americans have been purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles over the last several years, as the average fuel economy of new passenger cars has increased from 28.5 miles per gallon in 2000 to 33.7 miles per gallon in 2010, while over the same period the average fuel economy of new light duty trucks increased from 20.9 to 25.1 miles per gallon. According to US 2008 DOT/FHA Highway Statistics, the average mileage of passenger cars on the roads in 2008 was 22.4 miles per gallon while the average mileage for light trucks was 18.1 miles per gallon. Assuming a 50-mile round trip commute, two people ridesharing five days per week, 45 weeks per year would save 502 gallons of gas if the vehicle taken off the road was a passenger car, and 621 gallons would be conserved if the vehicle removed from the road was a light truck.

Ridesharing might save you some time!

If you have a long commute, say from Nassau County or Queens, you may find yourself frequently fighting heavy traffic on the LIE. If you rideshare, you can use the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane on the expressway.

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Last Modified: May 3, 2012