All road users are required to exercise caution in their daily use of the road network in Jamaica to get to their destinations; however, motor vehicle drivers are charged with an even greater level of responsibility for themselves, their passengers, other motorists and pedestrians.
A local study conducted by the Mona GeoInformatics Institute, based at The University of the West Indies, which tracked 72,000 crashes over an eleven year period, found that “the vast majority of crashes are caused by drivers” and attributed more than 89% of crashes over the period to driver behaviour.
It further revealed that the main causes for these crashes were related to: tailgating, overtaking, speeding, distracted driving, impairment from drugs, alcohol and fatigue.
Duane Ellis, General Manager of the Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA), says the figures emphasised “The important responsibility of motor vehicle drivers every time they get behind the wheel; and why care must always be taken when operating a vehicle.”
He pointed out that we need to ensure that our drivers can safely operate their vehicles; and, also drive with due consideration to other road users; as well as, observe the rules of the road.”
To this end, the JAA has created the Driver Improvement Programme, a multifaceted driver training course, which goes beyond instructing drivers about the technical aspects of driving; and, also equips them with skills that will enable them to be better road users.
“With the Driver Improvement Programme, we aim to reduce the risks associated with driving by helping drivers to anticipate dangerous situations, despite adverse conditions, or the mistakes of others,” he explained.
Mr Ellis emphasised that the Driver Improvement Programme will provide participants with techniques that will help them to improve their driving skills; and, assist them to reduce the risk associated with driving by helping them to anticipate dangerous situations.
The course is divided into two parts and is undertaken in four to five teaching hours in small and accessible classes, as well as a one-hour driving assessment.
Gosma Buddoo, Member Services and Communication Manager at the JAA, says the course, which is suitable for all drivers, can be of special benefit to persons who drive professionally. He stated that the main aim of the programme will be to, “Foster behavior change among participants, in how they operate on the road and in relation to other road users.”
He also outlined that both the theoretical and practical aspects of the course will include input and instruction from representatives of the JAA, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Island Traffic Authority, to support the detailed training material. In addition, each section of the course will be assessed to determine whether the student successfully completed the training.
“At the end of the course, each participant will receive a certificate of achievement which will allow insurance companies to consider accident forgiveness for their clients as well as assure an employer that a driver has received valuable training,” Mr Buddoo explained.