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Bay Area seeing increased use of alternative commuting options

As the California San Francisco Bay Area has become more populated – and as concerns about the environment have become more pressing – many residents have started to explore alternative ways of commuting to work. According to recently released data from the U.S. Census, only 37.6 percent of San Francisco residents commute to work alone in a car. Marin came in second place, with 65.2 of its residents regularly driving solo to work. Workers who choose not to commute alone may use any number of alternatives. Some join carpools, while others choose to walk, bike, take public transportation or even telecommute from home. Regardless of the method they use, these workers are helping to benefit everyone in the Bay Area. Alternative commutes reduce congestion, making traffic jams and car accidents less likely. They also help protect health and the environment by reducing air pollution. Marin has made some significant investments in the hopes of encouraging residents to use alternative commuting options. In 2004, Marin voters passed a half-cent sales tax increase, proceeds of which have contributed to a dedicated carpool lane, increased bus options and other transportation solutions.

Carpool accident liability

Carpooling is one of the most popular alternative commuting options. According to the same census data, 8.4 percent of Marin workers and 7.3 percent of San Francisco workers regularly participate in a carpool. Solano County has the highest carpool rate in the Bay Area, with 13.2 percent of its residents sharing a ride to work.

While carpooling is a great option, it can present some confusion if a car accident occurs.

Generally speaking, carpool-related accidents follow the same rules as all other crashes. If a negligent driver hits the carpool vehicle, the occupants will likely be able to pursue damages for any injuries suffered. A complication arises, however, when it is the carpool vehicle that causes the accident. In those cases, injured carpool passengers may be able to sue the carpool driver. In addition, carpool passengers may be on the hook for damages themselves if it is determined that their negligence contributed to the crash.

There may also be confusion over which insurance policy covers the accident in a case where multiple parties are at fault. In addition, carpoolers may be asked to provide witness accounts during the accident investigation and may also be subpoenaed to testify at trial.

If you have been in a car accident involving a carpool vehicle, it is important to consult with an experienced Bay Area personal injury attorney who can help you sort out these legal issues.

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