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August 28, 2009

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Drinkers in eateries can get a ride home

SOME restaurants are now providing drivers for customers who have been drinking after police launched a two-month drunk driving campaign earlier this month.

"We offer the service not only to customers who have been drinking but to others who just don't feel like driving home," said a restaurant manager based in Haikou, capital of Hainan Province.

The customer simply needs to sign an agreement with the restaurant to authorize a replacement driver to take him to a designated place.

In case of an accident, if the driver is to blame, the restaurant will take responsibility.

The restaurant records the names of the customer and driver, as well as departure and arrival times.

The restaurant manager said he recruited 10 drivers.

In Beijing, the crackdown on drunk driving is boosting business at companies that provide replacement drivers.

He Jin, general manager of a Beijing-based company, said it received an average of 120 requests for replacement drivers a day.

The first Beijing replacement driver company was set up in 2004. And now car-rental agencies and driving schools are in on the act.

In southwestern China's province of Yunnan, He Kui, manager of Yunzhuangjiayan restaurant, said many customers ask for drivers.

But there is concern about fees.

"A legal vacuum is strangling the business. There are no fee standards," said Zhang Jizhi, manager of a car-rental company in Yunnan.

Fees start at 40 yuan (US$5.85), plus 4.5 yuan for each kilometer traveled, Zhang said.

Some customers are not sure about the service either.

"I am not totally at ease when somebody else drives my car," said customer Zhang Liang. "I'd rather leave my car at the restaurant and come and get it the next day."


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