Want to participate in car sharing but think that whole "I want to use a car when I need one" thing is only half the story? Then you might like RelayRides, a peer-to-peer car sharing network that add a leap of trust element to the Zipcar model.

The idea is that owners can offer up their car for other people to use when it would otherwise just be sitting there. Through a web-based reservation system and an installed device that includes GPS and other features, any parked car could theoretically become a car sharing car.

We're going to assume that readers immediately thought up a lot of questions about this system. For them, there are two FAQs, one for owners, another for renters. The gist is that people who participate in RelayRides trust one another enough to give strangers access to their cars for a fee. Insurance is covered by an "an independent, national carrier," so if something really bad happens when the car is being rented, you're covered. A smaller ding, under $500, will be the responsibility of the renter unless they notice it before driving off and report it to the system. Also, gas is a little tricky. You'd get paid for the time someone is using your car, but you're still responsible for the gas. It looks like you'd make more than you'd spend, but we'd like to see a few more numbers to understand the system better.

Any car, as long as it runs and is clean and has power locks, can be signed up for RelayRides. The better your car, the more you can get paid. The website says you can make up to $8,000 a year – if you offer up a luxury car in "new and in perfect condition" and it gets used for 20 hours a week. Even with the FAQs and this article, we've still got a few questions about this (for example, the website says the installed device "makes it impossible to start the car without a reservation," so what about emergencies? Can the owner override the system?), but overall, it seems like a cool new idea. Newish, anyway. RelayRides officially got started last April, and the first vehicles in the system will soon go online in Baltimore and "we are launching in several other major cities in the coming months." Thanks to Jeremy S. for the tip!

[Source: RelayRides via Shareable]