While promoting a change in driving habits to help reduce the traffic, flexible carpooling also feels an absolute responsibility to do as much as possible to keep people safe. While casual carpooling systems have existed for up to three decades without specific safety systems and also without dramatic incident, these safety records are only achieved because people take a sensible approach to staying safe.
There are many aspects of the system that contribute to safety. They are listed and explained below:
Membership Approval Process
Flexible carpooling is a membership system. As explained on the membership page, the pre-screening that is carried out prior to approving membership for any applicant is a key component of creating a safe system. The administrators of the system will carry out these checks according to the locally agreed operating rules.
All members will be issued with membership cards as set out in the technology page. These membership cards have a couple of key features that will help to ensure safety: picture ID, (so any member can ask for a look) fingerprint sensitive activation switch, (so the system knows it is really you).
Membership Card Activation on Getting In to the Car
As each member gets into any member’s car, including their own, the operating rules for the system require the member to ‘activate’ (squeeze) the membership card so that the car-tag can capture the member’s information. This is the same for the driver getting in before heading to the flexible carpooling park, as it is for the member getting in at the park. The car-tag will blink a red light to show that it has received the message, and also display a light for each member in the car. Knowing that each member has properly activated their card, seeing that the lights on the car-tag equal the number of people in the car, will all help to ensure that there are no ‘strangers’ in the system.
Car occupant display
Before leaving the flexible carpool park the fuller car drives through an activation area where an infrared beam triggers the car-tag to send out a message of who is in the car. This information is captured by a reader, converted by a computer, and displayed on a board for the members in the car to see. The system names of the members in the car will be displayed. This shows each member that the system knows that they are in that car.
The system knows who is in which car
Although it should never happen, if a member fails to arrive at work or home it will be easy for the flexible carpooling administrator to determine which car the missing member was in.
Photo of each car, each day
Each time a car enters the flexible carpooling park the system will take a photo of the car and licence plate and store it for easy retrieval. This will enable matching of trip details with the car that was used to make the trip. (It will also provide a record to back up a claim for a rebate on the member’s insurance premiums based on verifiable reduction in driving distance).
Two riders every time
Always, unless the car is a two seater, always have two passengers in each car. There is strength in numbers and everyone will feel safer this way. If the car is a two seater, don’t mix the genders.
The pre-screening and technology are all systems that are designed to make the environment as safe as possible. In addition, members should use their own common sense and keep aware. Check before getting into a car that the car-tag shows the driver is a member. Check that when people are getting into your car, they activate their membership cards and the lights light up on the car-tag. Check the display board. If someone is in the flexible carpooling park and seems unsure of what to do, they are probably a new member. Ask to see their membership card, and help them find their way. If they are not actually a member this will be a way of finding out.
If it doesn’t feel safe, don’t do it
After everything else has been done, no-one is forcing anyone to get into any particular car. If you don’t like the look of the car or the driver, don’t get in. The rules allow you to decline a ride, to take the next car in the line, or the next one.
Everything so far has been about the system knowing that the members are safe people, and knowing that everyone in the system is a member. Suppose you feel unsafe while riding with a member, because of the way they drive or the way they treat their passengers. The system allows for that as well. After the ride is over, go on-line and tell the system about your experience. It won’t change it for you, but the system administrators will use this information to take positive steps with that driver. The feedback system will be moderated, and can be used to make positive feedback as well as filing complaints.
Safety for your Car
So far this page has been about keeping people safe, obviously the most important consideration. In addition to this, however, is the need to keep the riders’ cars safe through the day. Depending on the location, this might require that the flexible carpooling park be manned all day, or that there be monitored closed circuit television. The system will do everything it can to ensure that members and their possessions are safe at all times.