Getting Home Safely

The change in mindset toward drinking and driving these days is very evident. Whether the motivation is a desire to be responsible, or just a fear of getting caught, people are thinking twice before driving after a few drinks.

I’ve been trying to avoid driving even if I’ve had one drink. I find it’s a mindset, if I’m going to have a drink then I must make a plan to get home without driving. Sometimes I decide not to go out at all because it’s not worth the mission, and I think that’s a good thing.

I live in Seapoint, so town is not that far away. Worst case scenario I have to walk home, it’s only about an hour. But I can usually catch a taxi and from town to my spot is about R60. So I can generally get out and home for R120. But that adds up when you go out as often as me (6 nights a week!). So I’ve been trying to catch the bus to town, then get a cab home. That’s about R70 for the evening but it’s not convenient because the buses are not reliable. Sometimes I have waited less than 5 mins, but other times I have waited for an hour before giving up and taking a cab.

I have to admit I’ve never used a minibus taxi. I have tried a Rikki share cab, but my prevailing memory was that it didn’t work out much cheaper than a normal taxi (I generally use Excite – R9/km and it takes up to 6 people). If there is  more than one person then a taxi becomes a lot cheaper, and a group of 6 can move around town very cheaply.

The other option which I have started testing is one of the chauffeur services. That’s not really the right name for them, but I don’t know what the correct term is. I have been using Good Fellas, courtesy of the SAB No Regret Friday campaign. I’ve really been enjoying the service. The idea is that you drive your car out and then they will come fetch you and drive you home in your own car. The ‘sweeper’ will then take the driver back.

The fact that you are only paying for a one way trip makes it a more reasonable option and it gives you the freedom to leave home when you are ready, which not so easy when using buses or taxis. Good Fellas is not the only service like this, there are quite a few. I thought I would compare the options in case anyone else found it useful.

I was a little bit nervous using the service for the first time, after all, it’s different from a taxi, so I assume the etiquette must be different too. I decided to do some research and chatted to Joffy from 1 For The Road and he answered some questions for me.

I asked whether people usually sit in the front or back when they are driven home. He said single pickups usually sit in the front, couples usually together in the back. I have sat in the back when I’ve been collected and I love it. It’s the first time I’ve sat in the back of my car and it’s actually really comfy, makes me feel like a larney.

Then I asked about tipping, and he recommends a minimum of R20 tip if you’re happy with the service. This will be split between the two drivers, so it’s not a lot.

I asked if it’s necessary to direct the driver to your home. Joffy touts this as an advantage of being a member, they have your details on file so they know where to go. Some of the services allow non members, so you would obviously need to direct them.

A very important question is whether you need to make any adjustments to your vehicle insurance. Joffy recommends you check with your insurance but generally a policy allows for an occasional second driver.

The driver will park your car for you if you so wish, or you can park it yourself (silly question, but I have a very tricky parking spot).

What about stopping for some McDonalds on the way home? You’re paying per km and the driver probably has to go and collect someone after you, so it’s not ideal. But if you ask nicely…

Dropping off someone is allowed. I have done this myself. You have to tell the call centre when you book so that they can plan the time, and obviously the extra kilometres will be charged to your account.

Pre booking a time helps a lot with planning. So if possible, try book a collection time before you go out and stick to it. Otherwise, be aware that you can expect to wait anything up to an hour for your driver to arrive.

Some offer female drivers on request for women who may be nervous.

My research reveals that there are 10 companies offering this service. How do you go about choosing the one for you?

Well, there are a number of criteria but some a more important than others. For instance cost is obviously going to be a big factor, and so is minimum trip distance. You see most ask a minimum trip of about 15kms, but I live in Seapoint and go out in town, so my trip is only 6kms. This means I will pay double per trip.

Some of the services allow you to use them as non members, but it’s much more expensive that way. The best is to try and work out how you would use the service, ie. How often would you use it and how far would an average trip be. Then you can select a package which would suit you.

To make your life easier, I’ve listed all the services with a few comments and a link to their websites so that you can browse the options. Find the list here.

If you’re with Outsurance, they offer a discount on the basic Good Fella’s subscription where you pay per kilometre.