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Route-recording 'black boxes' for cabs

SHANGHAI taxis in future may be installed with a device that records driving details to help improve road safety and prevent drivers from disobeying the rules of the road, the city's taxi administration said yesterday.

The driving recorder can keep track of the vehicle's speed and the driver's actions. It also alerts drivers to slow down if they go faster than 80 kilometers per hour, said the taxi administration.

Similar to an aeroplane's black box, the recorder will be able to show if drivers do such things as cutting off vehicles to pick up passengers and whether they take reasonable measures in emergencies.

The data can also be submitted to police for accident investigations, the administration said.

There are nearly 43,000 taxis in Shanghai and the government plans to buy 5,000 new cars in the next couple of years to replace older vehicles.

The black box devices are already being tested by a small number of taxis operated by the Qiangsheng Taxi Co.

If the devices prove effective in improving driving behavior and reducing the accident rate, they will be installed in all Shanghai's new taxis.

The administration is still discussing the layout of new taxis. It's considering giving passengers more room and positioning the meter closer to passengers.

They may also carry removable baby chairs in the future.

Shanghai cabbies will wear blue suits, blue ties and white shirts as their professional uniforms, according to the current plan.

A final plan is due to be completed by the end of the year, officials said.


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