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Would You Let Strangers Borrow Your Car?

Living in a city and owning a car can feel both frustrating and pointless sometimes. Most of the day your car sits in a parking space with no one using it. You have to have a car to get to work, get out of the city for vacation, or go across town to meet a friend, but while you are at work or staying home for the day, your car remains idle, doing nothing. What if your car could be making you money when you are not using it? What if the car could pay for its own monthly payments? Would you be willing to let strangers rent your car for a few hours when you do not need it?  If you answered “yes,” a car sharing service, like the ones offered by the Getaround, RelayRides and JustShareIt apps, might be for you.

There are new services popping up around the country that promote car sharing in major cities. These services – Getaround, RelayRides, and JustShareIt – allow users to share their cars with strangers in exchange for payment. Depending on the make and model of your car, you could earn an average of $300 a month with the Getaround service.  RelayRides says an owner of a late-model midsize sedan could earn $3,000 a year by renting his or her car out for 10 hours a week.

Each of these services tracks the rental cars, making sure that the car owners may be contacted if something happens to the car and tracking gas mileage that users must pay. Users can download an iPhone app that will show them where an available car is and they can use the app to access the car as well, after the owner approves the rental.

There are hundreds of cars to choose from on these services, but users have to be in certain cities for the service to work. So far, only laws in California and Oregon protect renters and car owners in situations involving this kind of sharing.  As a result, the participating cities are currently limited to San Francisco, San Diego, and Portland. When other states make laws that do not hold the car owner responsible for the actions of a renter, car-sharing services will be able to spread to other states.

Not only would car sharing cut traffic congestion, but it could also help with the fuel crisis and environmental problems that come with gasoline engines. Imagine if those shared cars could drive themselves to the destination!  Between car sharing and emerging automotive innovations, technology is rapidly changing the driving experience.


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