Carpooling makes sense, no doubt about it. It cuts down on emissions, saves commuting costs, reduces congestion on our highways and helps us feel good for being part of the solution rather than part of the problem. For the most part, as far as the laws are concerned, true carpooling is relatively unregulated too.
Problems arise when money enters the picture. Both ICBC and the Passenger Transportation Branch will become interested as will the police, depending on the amount of money that changes hands for the ride.
If no money changes hands, ICBC does not require an insurance rate class change on the vehicle being used. If money is given to offset the cost, a vehicle owner may insure their vehicle in the rate class for its normal use, provided that their passengers’ contributions do not exceed the cost of fuel, insurance, wear and tear, and/or parking for the trip and don’t include expenses for depreciation of their vehicle. Their vehicle will only needed to be rated for business use if they start gaining financially from driving passengers.
The Passenger Transportation Branch advises that a private car pool vehicle, for example, a driver from the Fraser Valley who uses his vehicle to car pool a group to BCIT or a group of individuals that purchase a vehicle that is designated a car pool vehicle and individuals take turns driving the vehicle at specific times. These types of vehicles are not captured under the legislation.
In either case, if a profit is being made by the ride provider it then becomes a commercial venture and the proper insurance and licensing will be needed.
The author is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, please visit www.drivesmartbc.ca.