In the past, people living together in the c ommunity were expected to act as good neighbors. If someone had a problem, you were expected to help out. But times change and trust issues have arisen. Today, the majority of people have their own problems and prefer to deal with them without outside interference. This reflects a shift away from old-fashioned Christian values to a Libertarian attack on the scrounger. People who feel they are entitled to assistance or who depend on others to do what they should do themselves are discouraged.
That's what makes the car-sharing services so interesting. Now instead of trying to ask your neighbors if you can borrow a vehicle to solve an emergency problem, there's an alternative to rental. This is a service that enables you to use another vehicle for short periods of time. It helps out the people who only need access to a vehicle occasionally. Some of the services are run as cooperatives. Local people club together to produce a pool of vehicles and members of the group can book them by the hour. Others run as commercial organizations, renting out on a for-profit basis. The common denominators are that, unlike many rental agencies, you can get access to shared vehicles at any time of the day. It's all self-service. But, as you will understand, every member has to be approved before any vehicle is made available.
Car-sharing and auto insurance
The problem, as always, has been insurance. When working on an informal basis, some owners have found their policies cancelled by their insurers. There are terms limiting ownership to noncommercial use. Letting another use your vehicle for money becomes a commercial use if you do it on a regular basis. Now states like California, Oregon and Washington are passing laws to control the emerging market. This allows you to share your vehicle and make a little extra income without loosing your auto insurance cover. This is good for the environment with fewer vehicles needed. It also meets a growing social need because more people find vehicle ownership too expensive. The laws require the sharing organization to hold a fleet policy. When you hand over your vehicle, it's then covered by the common policy. There are also new rules about safety to ensure the vehicles are in a roadworthy condition when others are allowed to drive them. Everyone benefits!