‘Taxi Magic’ app aims to keep impaired drivers off the roads

In a program aimed at keeping impaired drivers off the streets, state officials introduced a cell phone application Monday that will allow residents of areas including San Diego County to call for a cab and even pay for the taxi ride.

The free “Taxi Magic” application is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Palm Smartphones, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety.

Authorities said the application would be useful for someone who had been drinking and needs a taxi. Impaired driving accounts for the highest number of fatal crashes in California and the nation, said Chris Cochran of the OTS.

“While the public is aware of the dangers of DUI, they still can find themselves in situations where a designated sober driver is not available,” Cochran said. “Where previously calling a cab might have been intimidating, embarrassing or bothersome, this latest technology can make it as easy as one tap on your cell phone screen.”

Taxi Magic has several features, including a “Magic Book” button that can handle multiple tasks that alcohol impaired people could find difficult, making the service “ground-breaking and potentially very helpful in keeping drunk drivers off the road,” Cochran said.

Available in most large metropolitan areas in California, the “Magic Book” option allows registered users to simply tap the button on their Smartphone. The application will determine where the caller is, contact a cab company and dispatch a taxi to the caller’s location.

While waiting, the caller can check to see where the cab is en route, which cab it is, who the driver is and when it is expected to arrive. The caller can even use the application to automatically pay by credit card and get a receipt e-mailed to them.

“While we have long advocated taxi cabs as a good alternative in the list of designated sober driving possibilities, both the ease and extras offered through the technology of Taxi Magic make it a great service for those who shouldn’t be driving,” said Christopher J. Murphy, director of the California OTS.

In smaller towns where the Magic Book option is not available, callers can still use the service to automatically call local taxi companies, Cochran said. It is also available on the Internet and by text messaging via

, and can be set up hours or days in advance.

“Taxi Magic is thrilled to partner with OTS to bring the message of making sure a sober driver is at the wheel when you are out celebrating,” said Tim Csontos, Taxi Magic vice president for business development.