Car sharing is typically available only in metropolitan areas because it's just not that effective in rural settings. Also, car sharing as a potential mode of transportation works best for people who already drive sporadically and don't need a car to get to work every day. It may seem odd that someone who doesn't drive very often would want to join a car-sharing operation, but for those infrequent times he or she does need to drive, a substantial amount of money is saved sharing a car versus purchasing a rarely-driven, new car.
Finding a company is easy, especially with the help of Web sites such as CarSharing.net. A quick Internet search can tell you if car sharing is available near you. You may have already seen the designated parking spaces for shared cars around town. Once you get to a company's Web site, familiarize yourself with its policies and procedures. In some cities, more than one car-sharing company operates, so be sure to compare rates and locations in order to make the best match for your needs.
The eligibility requirements for membership vary greatly between countries and companies. Commonly, requirements include a minimum age, a valid driver's license and a fairly good driving record. Not everyone qualifies, but if your application gets denied, try another company -- it may have less rigid restrictions. It takes time for companies to process applications, so apply at least a few days before the time that you'll need a car.
If you match a company's criteria, you can apply online and usually be on the road in a few days. Then, you need to familiarize yourself with the company's fleet map and see where the cars are located for you to use. Most companies offer a variety of car makes and models, as well as vans and trucks. Hybrid vehicles are also available, and some companies allow you to make monetary contributions to offset your carbon footprint.
Next we will examine some of the benefits of car sharing and see why it might be the smart way to drive.