Check out this guest post from our friends at Zimride, who really know a thing or 2 about how to save on gas.

A recent AAA study revealed that the cost of owning a car is up 1.9 percent — which may not sound like a lot until you realize it comes out to an average of $8,946 a year. The findings show that an increase in the cost of gas (duh), car parts, maintenance, and (gasp!) car insurance have all contributed to the rise (though we hear customers who switched to Esurance saved a bunch on their car insurance).

Of course gas prices are the biggest source of the increase. And as they keep rising, you (and the rest of the country) might be looking for some tricks to help save on gas (and do the environment a favor). But how? Do you really have to go out and spend $30K on a hybrid just to save a few bucks on gas? Isn’t there an easier way?

It turns out there is. Carpooling.

Gas prices could reach an all-time high this year

With current gas prices averaging $3.87 a gallon and experts predicting they could go as high as $4.50 this summer, the best way to save money is by riding together. In fact, carpooling could allow you to split the cost of gas in half.

Plus, many cities reward carpool commuters with special (less congested) lanes during peak driving hours. And considering that 76 percent of commuters drive alone, there’s still lots of room in the carpool lane.

How to find a carpool

All you have to do is sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic for an hour or 2 to realize how many other people are heading in the exact same direction as you. So … ask around at work to see if anyone lives in your neighborhood.

Or, if you’d like to make some new friends, ask your transportation or parking department about organized rideshare programs. Or just do an online search for carpool programs in your area. (Zimride offers a pretty sweet service. Hint, hint.)

Rotate your driving schedule

Once you find a carpool, set up a driving schedule so no one gets stuck doing all the driving. Though it’s not always easy to give up control, you might be suprised by how relaxing the commute becomes when you sit back and enjoy the view from the passenger seat. You might even get a chance to catch a couple of extra zs.

What’s more, rotating vehicles helps reduce the accumulation of miles, which decreases your vehicle maintenance costs — a bonus considering AAA’s recent findings on the increase in driving costs. And the savings don’t end there! Decreasing your annual mileage might also help you lower your car insurance rate.

The physical benefits of carpooling

In addition to the financial benefits, carpooling can also improve your physical health and the health of those around you. Think about it. By carpooling, you reduce the number of cars on the road. This means less traffic congestion and less carbon dioxide in the air (a definite plus for the lungs). It also means reduced road rage, less stress, and a lower risk of a fender bender. See? All things that are good for you.

So next time you gasp, moan, or sigh at the price of gas, think about the many benefits of ridesharing. We can’t wait to see you in the carpool lane. Just promise us that you’ll rotate who gets to nap in the backseat.

Happy travels from the Zimride crew.

Related link

Find out how to carpool to your next event
Learn the 5 cardinal rules of carpooling

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