Hitchhiking has always existed, but organised hitchhiking is a more recent development. It is called carsharing. A new trend that appeared in the 50s and one which was further developed in the 80s, it has been experiencing a major boom over the past few years. Today it is considered as a serious alternative to flying and rail transport, which are becoming far too expensive. Obviously there are also environmental advantages.
A driver offers to share his car with passengers looking to make the same trip. The terms (departure time and place) and fees (identical for each passenger) are up to him. Although some drivers do make money off of this system, the law prohibits it from becoming a professional occupation. The driver should not make a profit and must request a sum that reflects the number of miles covered.
Carsharing has greatly benefitted from the rapid development of the Internet. Over the past several years, plenty of websites offering this service have popped up. Now there is a whole network of them. Drivers post a route they will be taking and share their contact details to find potential passengers. In this system, everybody benefits: the driver covers the costs of his trip (fuel and possible tolls) and passengers get around for a lot less.
Finally, a major advantage that is not to be neglected, carpooling means a considerable reduction in CO2 emissions. If we consider the millions of vehicles driving on our roads every day and that more than half of them have a single occupant, carpooling represents a viable alternative for eliminating unnecessary cars on roads and optimising trips.
It's not easy to know where to look among all the websites proposing carsharing. Carpooling.co.uk is one of the most popular ones, with over 3,500,000 members. Meanwhile, LiftShare.com is the largest car-share network in the UK, and with a social conscience to boot: it is able to fund its free services by providing individual car-share schemes to councils, businesses, hospitals, universities, events and business parks - such as BBC, Tesco, Heathrow airport and the Environment Agency - helping them with parking issues, saving them money and reducing local pollution and congestion. Other popular sites include nationalcarshare.co.uk and blablacar.com.