CampusLifts can help those who use it wisely

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

March 20, 2007 Ed Cartoon

A new online service, Campuslifts.ca, was launched last weekend. The site helps students from Ontario colleges and universities carpool to different locations. Students needing or offering rides can view profiles and connect with ride organizers.

While similar programs have received positive response in Toronto and Quebec, there are safety concerns.

This service may provide an opportunity for several “creepers” to sexually advance on passengers. Just because they provide student profiles and e-mail addresses doesn’t necessarily make the service safer; people can easily make up much of their information.

The program may be considered a form of hitchhiking, which was prevalent several decades ago but is rare today because of its potential dangers.

Though safety is obviously important, people watching a little too much Prison Break may just be paranoid; it isn’t likely criminals or rapists would use this service.

Similar to existing sites for Europe trips, which help students needing a place to crash or people to travel with, the student carpool service may be a good way to explore and meet new people.

On the other hand, riding in a car with a stranger is different than staying in a house or hostel since the passenger doesn’t have immediate control. If something were to happen, the passenger would have difficulty safely escaping the situation.

As far-fetched as such a scenario may seem, just because it rarely happens doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

It may also help to have a rating system or friend list available on the site to reduce anxiety. Recognizing one of the drivers as a friend of a friend, the passenger may feel more comfortable than they would riding with a complete stranger.

Safety aside, riding with a stranger for an extended period can be an awkward experience if one or both parties are antisocial. However, travelling with friends or meeting with the driver beforehand can ease the car trip’s awkwardness.

Also, without the guarantee of fairness, ensuring proper payment and division of gas expenses could be problematic. Payment issues should therefore be resolved in advance. Perhaps a discussion forum on the site would make skeptics more confident about utilizing the service.

Overall, CampusLifts is a clever initiative thrifty students will likely pounce on. But anyone using the service should remember discretion is crucial; if you’re smart about the situation, CampusLifts should be useful for you.

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