KUALA LUMPUR, July 26 — Two Dutch expatriates from the auto racing sector have decided to turn their attentions to a more socially responsible endeavour —providing a service to drive city folk home in their own cars after a night out drinking.
For Recardo Bruins, co-founder of Dial A Driver (DAD) and a race car driver for Hyundai Motors, the idea came from observing the success of the service in Seoul where some 30-40 such companies have flourished by providing drivers for hire.
“When I go out in Seoul, all my friends call a driver,” said Bruins. He added that there was also some personal motivation for starting the service as four years ago, a friend of his was killed on the street after being hit by a drunk driver.
His business partner, Matthijs Hoitink, who has been based in Malaysia for the past seven years and helps organise races around Asia, said that the company wants to be the first in the market and sees demand ramping up as enforcement against drink driving becomes stricter.
He admits however that response has been “a bit quiet” since starting the service in April as awareness was still low. DAD gets about 5-10 customers per week.
The main issue that potential customers may balk at is the cost. DAD charges RM50 for the first 5km and an additional RM5 for the next five kms. Prices are calculated using Google Maps route calculator.
Hoitink says that the charges are not unreasonable as if people were to use a taxi, they would have to pay for two trips — one to the bar and one to go back home. Females too might have reservations over taking a taxi due to safety reasons. There is also the added consideration of being able to go home in the comfort of one’s own car.
To entice people to try the service, DAD is now offering a promotion of RM50 for the first 15km, which Hoitink says encompasses most of KL.
He added that the RM50 charge is only just enough to cover the cost.
Each time a customer calls, a team of two is dispatched to the customer’s location. The customer is then driven home in his or her own car by one of the drivers while his team mate follows in another vehicle. Upon delivering the customer home, the driver then goes back with his teammate. DAD has four teams with another five “on back order.” Customers can request for their regular driver if they call in advance.
Bruins tests the drivers himself and said that they must demonstrate good knowledge of roads and know “safe” routes.
“The drivers must be polite, friendly and know how to deal with situations,’ added Hoitink.
There was a similar service called Road Angels that was launched in KL a few years ago but folded after it failed to gain traction. The two Dutchmen however, appeared undeterred.
“We look at it as a long term business and feel the market will be there and we want to be the first,” said Hoitink adding that DAD is also looking to tap the corporate events market.
Bruins said that people shouldn’t wait for an accident to happen before taking action.
“Try the convenient way of going out without taking a risk,” he said.
More information on DAD can be found at their website