How to Have Fun in Your Car (and be Safer too)

by | Traveling

If you were to watch a funny movie, do you think you would laugh the same amount, more, or less if other people were in the same room? In a study done by behavioral neurologist Robert Provine, he found that people are 30 times more likely to laugh in social settings than when they are alone.  Laughter is inherently a social phenomenon, where we tend to do more of it when people are around us.  When I spoke with a long time (over 12 years) van-pooler, I asked him what his experience was like as he commuted into work with 5+ other colleagues an average of 3 hours per day.  It may seem that the ride into work would be quiet with everyone on their laptop, phone or newspaper (if such a thing exists still!). It turns out that the group of van poolers “solved the worlds problems on their commute”..which means they talked a lot. A similar experience I heard from  a car pooler, who was hesitant to do it at first, but when she started to do it regularly with a colleague found that she had a lifelong bond with that person after they ended their car pooling. In France, a long time Rideshare driver regularly would pick up passengers for a 6 or 7 hour ride from his work city to his home city.  He says that it is a fantastic experience to discover the background of these new “friends”.

Commuting alone is one of those things in life that makes us the most unhappy according to the Gallup Organization “Place and Happiness” survey.  But as the examples show above, commuting does not have to be an experience bankrupt of fun and excitement.  In fact, organizations and people can take advantage of their (on average) 3 hour commute time by having other colleagues in the car and on the commute.  Imagine if every vehicle that came into work had 3 staff that were Ridesharing together into work, that would be 6 hours of interaction every day or almost 1500 hours of additional interaction every year. If anyone has been at a dinner, coffee or any other social occasion when the conversation goes silent it is uncomfortable for everyone..we humans want to fill that silence to avoid the awkwardness.  This applies as well to taking a ride in a car…conversations will happen and most likely around work.

So you have a bunch of people talking in a car…isn’t that dangerous and unsafe and cause driver distraction? In fact, “Journey Management “ which is a set of best practices around work travel in vehicles say that having more than one person in a vehicle contributes significantly to the overall safety of the ride.  A Manager at a large auto insurance carrier commented that pairing people in a vehicle could reduce incidents significantly.  The main benefit of this is the social affect of having other people in the car and being socially engaged on potentially long drives which could combat driver fatigue.  The North American Toyota CTO recently commented that “driver fatigue” is a surprising contributor to accidents that happen on the road…it is only recently through advanced algorithms and sensors that they can actually reconstruct accident profiles and point to driver fatigue as the reason.

Although the commuting experience is certainly lacking today, the future of Ridesharing can help not only make the drive better for people, it can help the work organization through productivity enhancements and make longer drives safer. All you need  is another person in that empty seat beside you.

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