It’s been a source of angst for college students for a long time. These young men and women are old enough to live on their own, pursue a college degree, and even vote in elections. Many of them are old enough to drink alcohol. Despite all this evidence of their reliability and self-sufficiency, these college students are still not old enough to rent a car.
“I need a carrrrrrr!!”
But they can’t blame the government. Age restrictions on rental cars have been imposed by the rental companies themselves. Because national statistics show a large prevalence of collisions among 18-24 year olds, these companies don’t want to assume the risk of letting a young adult behind the wheel of one of their vehicles.
Thankfully, the universities themselves are stepping up to assist their students who want to rent a vehicle. Institutions of higher learning are beginning to become members of car-sharing clubs like ZipCar and WeCar.
Here’s how it usually works: students at a school affiliated with a car sharing club pay an annual fee for the ability to rent a car by the hour or by the day. Then they only pay for their usage of the vehicle – not for gasoline or extra auto insurance. The university is then allotted a certain number of vehicles, which are available for rental at any one time. Each student member is issued an electronic swipe card which is read by a label on the windshield, and the keys are provided inside the vehicles themselves. This allows the college to allow student auto rentals 24 hours a day if they choose to do so.
How are universities able to convince car sharing clubs to do this? Because the school foots the bill for auto insurance. Each club member receives the minimum liability coverage as required by law in that state. Therefore, the car sharing club doesn’t assume the risk of accidents.
These car sharing programs open up a whole new world of opportunities for college students who don’t have their own vehicles. They can now rent a car for an hour or two to go shopping. They can get a car for the evening to see an event in the city. Or they can grab a ride and roar out of town for a week-long road trip on Spring Break.
Or they just can drive it to the stadium parking lot for a tailgate party. That works too.
Universities like these programs, too. After all, parking and traffic are usually major concerns on and around a college campus. So if a school can reduce the number of vehicles on campus at any one time (especially those which are only used sparingly), then the entire collegiate community benefits (including school faculty and staff). Plus, these car sharing clubs can be touted as another perk for potential students looking to enroll at these schools.
Car sharing clubs have already become popular in urban areas where car ownership can be challenging. And given the vehicle issues which are inherent on almost any college campus, ZipCar, WeCar, and other programs may soon become as common on university campuses as student centers, workout facilities, and dormitories.
And keg parties.