Zipcar, the Car Co-op and New Drivers

Zipcar and the Co-operative Auto Network both have cars parked right outside my building. Members can use the cars when they need one. This would be great except for the fact that neither of them will let me join.

Zipcar and the Co-op both require customers to have 3 year driving records. I only recently got my BC driver's license, and I still have my N, labeled as a novice driver.

As a new driver, I think I'm the prime demographic for a car sharing service. Lock me into your program when I'm young and getting started driving and there's a good chance they'd have me as a customer for a long, long time.

It's been good to see the 2 services competing against each other by adding more locations around Vancouver. I'm hopeful that one will see the opportunity here and create a way for new drivers to join.

Rejecting new drivers hampers the growth of car sharing, and pushes people to buy cars. Here's the research on how to buy a used car and Canadian car buying tips.

Posted by dustin on July 30, 2008 with category tags of

And I just emailed both services asking again to join, with a link to this post...
   comment by dustin (#1) on July 30, 2008

I completely agree, Dustin. The licensing system in Canada is SO stupid.
   comment by Raul on July 30, 2008

While i can understand they are probably listening to the lawyers, insurance brokers and accountants, excluding new drivers means excluding the drivers who are most likely to really need the service - the truly risky new drivers have their own cars to race around in. Perhaps an insurance surcharge in lieu of 3 years record but still ...
   comment by DaveO on July 30, 2008

Guaranteed its insurance related. and one more thing, Dustin: n00b!! ;-)
   comment by Dario on July 30, 2008

Great point. I'm not sure why the 3 year rule is there. I doubt it's insurance related, since BC has a public auto insurance that doesn't discriminate based on age or sex. The only factor is years of accident-free driving. And the car co-op has fleet insurance, so I'm not sure your driving record even comes into play.

I wonder how many people are in the same situation as you. I got my license when I was 16, drove my parent's car for a few years, and by the time I'd even consider vehicle ownership of my own, I had 3 years of experience.

Hopefully CAN will get back to you with a reason or even better an exemption. I've been a CAN member now for 2 years and I love it.
   comment by Chris on July 30, 2008

The number of people in Mr. Sacks' position is very small, because they all got their learner's permits at 16 and would have qualified by the time they moved out of their parents' house.

The rule is almost certainly because new drivers have terrible accident records, and both organizations are probably not beholden to ICBC for anything other than its mandatory minimum liability insurance. Whether they use private insurers or they self-insure, it's very possible that liability exposure precludes them from adding wildcards like new drivers to their liability.

The rules for car rental are typically age-based, often forbidding drivers under 21 or 25 from renting cars.

Get a scooter, wait it out, and let this be a lesson to you about the importance of learning how to drive as early as possible.

-RjC, uncountable bicycles.
   comment by Ryan Cousineau on July 31, 2008

The number of people in my situation may not be huge, but it will grow as society continues to (slowly) move away from every person owning a car.

A forward looking service would find a way to accept new drivers. I'm willing to pay a higher price if need be.
   comment by dustin (#1) on July 31, 2008

Car Co-op says "Sorry but the three year rule can't be overidden."
   comment by dustin (#1) on August 1, 2008

Zipcar said (on August 2nd but I forgot to post it then):

I'm sorry to hear that you're having difficulty signing up, though I don't belive that it would be for lack of a three year record. Zipcar requests that you be licensed for only one full year before applying for membership. If you review our requirements listed below, and believe that you were rejected in error, please send a copy of your up to date driving record to 617-995-4300, attn: application appeals.

To be eligible, you must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Have a valid driver's license (from any country) and have been licensed for at least one year
- Have had no more than two "incidents" (moving violations PLUS accidents) in the past three years and no more than one incident in the past 18 months
- Have had no major violations in the past three years
- Have had no alcohol violations in the past seven years

Thank you for your email.
   comment by dustin (#1) on August 18, 2008

So Zipcar has easier requirements to join: 1 year vs 3. Although it must be 1 year of N, since I got my L over a year ago and they didn't take me.

I went and bought a used car last week anyhow. More money, but no frustrating wait or hoops to jump through.
   comment by dustin (#1) on August 18, 2008

Hi all
--sorry for barging into your blog -- I came across the posting by accident and thought I'd lend some info.

While it is true that the plea of lawyers and insurers are at the root of the reason the Co-operative Auto Network does not allow people with less than three years driving experience to join as members - we actually do have a plan to work with LtoN Drivers.

It requires the LtoN driver be sponsored by another full member. You know someone else that will take on the extra liabilities associated with novice driver. A sponsor helps us because if they are willing to share responsibility for the driving abilities of the novice - we have an insight into the person. Without it - we know nothing about the person, their driving ability or their actual time behind the wheel.

Let's all just keep mindful that the automobile is the Number one killer of human beings on the planet - not war, not AIDS, not famine, not drought -- not pestilence -- you get it. In a car (more often than outside of a car) people can die or be seriously hurt. Expecting any organization to accept drivers on spec would be likely construed as negligent by somebody's parent's lawyers...

At least the car co-op has not age restriction -- just three years driving experience. I personally know five 40 years-olds that haven't joined us because they lack the demonstrated skill; three years. I also know a few people that got their licence - then didn't drive for 3 years -- then joined us.

This is not an easy concern to deal with. Unfortunately and as most will buy a car - be careful - drive safe for three years (from the date you were given your N) and then join us.

   comment by Tracey on November 25, 2008

Um... disease is by far the most common killer in the world, not autos. See here:

Also, I was willing to provide any info you wanted on "who I was" to join. Co-op was unwilling to listen.

Defend your policy all you want. It's hurting your growth most of all.
   comment by dustin on November 25, 2008

I wouldn't bother joining the Co-operative Auto Network. In the year and half I was a member they continually made substantial errors in their invoices and cars were often poorly maintained/breaking down. I had too many negative experiences with their customer service to recommend applying. It was more hassle and stressful than beneficial in the end and I had to re-think my car needs and explore other options.
   comment by jwyld on February 17, 2009

true experience is all that counts..
   comment by Aron on January 24, 2011


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