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Taipei unveils fee structure for designated drivers

TAIPEI -- A maximum fee structure for designated driver services was introduced by the Taipei City Government yesterday as part of efforts to prevent traffic accidents and advertise the service.

A total of 10 taxi companies that provide such services have agreed to abide by the new fee structure, Taipei transport officials said.

Under the new regulations, a taxi driver hired to drive the vehicle of a drunk motorist should charge no more than NT$1,000 (US$33.4) for a distance of less than 10 kilometers.

For every 2 km over that distance, the fee should be no more than NT$100, the authorities said.

The rates were set after looking at fees in Hong Kong and Japan and holding discussions with the 10 taxi companies earlier this year, officials said.

The newly introduced maximum charge is more than three times the current rate, the Taipei City Department of Transportation said.

The new fee structure was devised to ease concerns about overcharging and to promote the service, officials said.

It is anticipated that the designated driver service will be in high demand during major holidays and around end-of-year when people tend to drink heavily, the officials said.

So far this year, about 17 percent of the 47 auto accident fatalities in Taipei that occurred within 24 hours have been cases of drunk driving, statistics show.

The designated driver service can been booked by phone, at ibon kiosks at 7-11 stores or by hailing a taxi on the street, city officials said.

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