Ministry edict extinguishes all smoking inside taxisTaxi and bus drivers will not be allowed to smoke in their vehicles even if customers are not present, according to a revised enforcement decree announced yesterday by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.
The ministry said the law took effect last week, and violators will be subject to a 100,000 won ($96) fine.
Previously, drivers were not allowed to smoke only when carrying passengers.
The ministry said the decision is in response to complaints of cigarette smells in taxis.
Meanwhile, the Transport Ministry also announced that taxis registered from yesterday must have airbags for the front seats.
More than 34,000 taxis will have installed front row airbags in a year, and full coverage should be accomplished within eight years, the ministry said.
Taxi operators will be subject to a 30-day suspension for a first violation, 60 days for a second and 90 days for a third.
According to ministry data, only 8.9 percent of taxis in Korea are equipped with airbags for the front passenger seat, while 53.6 percent have driver-side airbags.
The ministry said mandatory airbags would reduce fatalities due to taxi accidents. Data shows 36,999 injuries and deaths due to taxi accidents last year.
“Just by installing airbags, the death rate from car accidents goes down by 13 percent,” the ministry said.
BY JOO KYUNG-DON [firstname.lastname@example.org ]