Are you driving less and trying to find ways to escape the high cost of gasoline?

Car pools and van pools have become increasingly popular in the past two years as drivers grapple with an uncertain economy and spiraling gas prices.

While the cost of gas rose by 27 percent last year, the number of people applying to an organization that coordinates car and van pooling rose almost as much, according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG).

COG said it tracked cause and effect in comparing gas prices to the number of applications received by Commuter Connections, a subsidiary of the regional planning group made up of elected officials.

“Commuter Connections can provide commuters with options that reduce the impact of high fuel prices and changing travel behavior just one day per week can cut commuting costs by 20 percent,” said Nicholas Ramfos of Commuter Connections. “In these challenging economic times, a little extra money can make a big difference.”

His organization helps applicants connect with others whose daily commutes are similar. He said his office soon will offer a $200 monthly incentive for van pools.