Hitchhiker’s guide to carpooling

By Natalie Sit

Mom said never to accept rides from strangers, but they may be your only way to school during the transit strike.

There are some precautions people can take to minimize their risk. Inspector Al Redford with the Calgary Police Service’s Family, Youth and Violent Crime Section suggested people trust their instincts in judging the safety of their rides and added his biggest concern is people accepting or giving rides to strangers.

"It’s alright to pick up a single rider if you’re accompanied by someone you know and trust, or if you outnumber the people that you’re picking up," said Redford. "The [rider] should take notes of things like the license [plate], the car [and] ask the driver’s name."

Calgarycommuter.com is a free Internet site that helps Calgarians set up carpools. Before the transit strike, the site had 200 registered users and now boasts 2,000 users. Users are urged to exercise prudence when divulging their vitals to strangers.

"Be careful what personal information you do give out," said Peter Sadlon, Vice-president of Technical Services for Debion Inc., the parent company of calgarycommuter.com. "Tell your family or roommate that you’re getting a ride with someone."

Beyond that, calgarycommuter.com also has safeguards in place.

"Within the site, the only way you can communicate with someone is through forms on the site," said Sadlon. "All the information sent on the forms is kept by us. So if anything does happen, we do have a record of it."

The site is planning the addition of maps to help users find better matches, instead of finding people in the same area.

"It will allow them to see pictures of where other commuters are," said Sadlon. "It will allow people to match en route."


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