Every day, hundreds of thousands of South Africans travel to and from work, chasing their dreams and hustling for their next paycheck.

If you live 20 km from your place of work, travel times can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on where you live and what the traffic is like. Five days a week, four weeks a month, 12 months a year… Deducting a few weeks of leave, that means that you’ll spend about 340 hours a year travelling to and from work. That’s 340 hours sitting in your car, alone, listening to the radio – almost 10 000 km worth of petrol eating its way out of your bank account.

Sounds like a lot right? So what’s the solution?

You could keep doing what you’re doing: it’s worked for you so far, right? Well, maybe not: escalating congestion levels are affecting major metropolises across the country, and authorities seem powerless to ease the gridlock. That 340 hours could soon turn into 400, or 500 – when is enough, enough?

We’re not saying you should consider selling a car, but there have got to be other options!

You could take public transport, but that, too, is unreliable – just ask any Cape Town commuter who has lost hours from their day thanks to MetroFail. There are the well-documented safety issues to consider as well.

Well, there is another way: carpooling.

What is carpooling?

The Beatles said it best: we’ll get by with a little help from our friends. Carpooling or lift-clubbing is basically the process of sharing rides to a predetermined destination with one or more passengers who live nearby: friends, colleagues, fellow students or complete strangers. Drivers and passengers will discuss how they will alternate vehicles and responsibilities, as well as how they’ll pay an agreed-upon fare for each trip.

So why does carpooling make so much sense?

Well, obviously splitting the travel costs by half or more can make a huge difference to your monthly budget. But having someone in the car with you prevents the monotony of sitting in traffic all by your lonesome, day after day. It gives you the chance to catch up with friends, catch up on work or catch a few winks (if you’re the passenger, of course!).

Your car also gets something out of the deal, as well: driving fewer kilometres means less wear and tear and less maintenance.

Then there are the benefits to the world around you: imagine if every single driver you see on the roads during rush hour was sharing a ride with one of the others? Reduce the number of cars on the road and you reduce congestion. Less cars also means less pollution and less of an impact on climate change.

What’s not to love about carpooling?

Well, the logistics, for one: just one change to a finely-tuned carpool schedule can put everyone’s day into a tailspin, and the more people you’re ride-sharing with, the more variables there are in play. You’re one schedule-change, destination-change or sick day away from a logistical nightmare.

If starting your own lift-club sounds like too much effort, there are a few local carpooling apps like JumpInRides and CarTrip that you can use instead.

Tips for being the ideal carpool member:

#1 Set the fare in advance – and stick to it

#2 Don’t be late, don’t make ‘em wait

#3 Keep in contact

#4 Always have a plan B, for those unavoidable disruptions

#5 Get it serviced – if you’re worried that your ride may not be up to scratch, check out CarZar’s fuel consumption calculator!

#6 Personal hygiene – no one wants to share a ride with smelly (that includes too much perfume or cologne) passenger