New service offers to get you and your car home safely on a night out

Ray’s Taxi Stand in Vailima can now drive their customers and their cars home, in a new initiative piloted at Phat Burger, Malifa.

Where before a few too many drinks meant either risking it on the roads or a return trip for one’s car in the morning, the two businesses have teamed up to skip the hassle.

Phat Burger co-owner, Kylie Fauchelle, said he and Who from Ray's Taxi in Vailima want to offer something convenient, at just 50 per cent more than the cost of a regular fare home.

“I just want to be proactive in case people have one or two too many drinks and are not comfortable to drive,” Mr. Faucelle said.

“Ray’s Taxi has a good name with people I know that I trust, so that is why we went with those guys. We see the value in it and all the money goes to the taxis."

The system works by sending two cars to the customer instead of one. A taxi driver jumps into the client’s car and drives the passengers home, and a second taxi follows to bring the driver back to the taxi stand. 

If asked, Phat Burger staff can order and arrange the taxis for their customers.

Ray’s Taxi, which has 30 drivers to its name, has been in operation for three years. 

Manager, Mr. Sooialo said majority of their business comes on Friday and Saturdays.

“Most of our passengers are women especially on Fridays and Saturdays. They call us to have them dropped off to where they want to go and pick them and drop them home, ensuring they are safe, and they always pay us generously for our services.”

The new initiative should help all kinds of people in the area, Mr. Sooialo said.

“It's all to assist the people of our village and anyone else who needs assistance."

Driving under the influence, or drink driving, will currently earn you up to five years in prison or a hefty fine. 

The Ministry of Police have been working to crack down on drunk drivers, with breathalyser stops out on weekend evenings across town.

Up to date death toll figures have been sought from the the Police Commissioner’s office, but from 2013 until 2017, 15 people died in crashes stemming from drunk driving. 

In September 2018, those numbers were high enough for the Minister of Transport, Works and Infrastructure Papalii Niko Lee Hang to call for a mandatory jail term for any drunken driver.

That year around 14 people were charged with negligent driving occasioning death in Samoa.

The 2018 to 2019 festive season totalled 22 cases of driving under the influence in just two weeks, between 21 December and 03 January, including two people charged with causing injury while driving drunk.

In October 2019, when two people died in a car crash resulting from drunken driving, Police Commissioner Fuavailiili Egon Keil asked not only drivers to do better but also their friends.

“If you see someone drinking and then hopping in their car, do something,” he told the Samoa Observer.

“Be proactive, you might save that person's life or somebody else's life.”

The very next month four people died as a result of a drunken driving, including a new father-of-two from Vaimoso and a 23-year-old man from Leulumoega. 

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