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Driving Defensively- A Must for Motorists says Veteran Instructor

By February 1, 2011No Comments
With potential risks lurking around nearly every corner of the 21,000 kilometres of roads in Jamaica, knowing just a little more than the basics about driving can save your life, and the lives of other road users, says Principal of Grennell’s Driving School, Alphonso Grennell.

“There are so many risks created by poor road conditions, and the ignorance and carelessness of other motorists and road users, that it is important today for all drivers to develop defensive driving skills,” comments the 15- year veteran driving instructor.

Defensive Driving is one subject area that will take centre stage at the Jamaica Driver and Traffic Safety Expo, to be held on June 19 at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre on Hope Road, St. Andrew.  The event, which is free of charge to the public, will include workshops and demonstrations about defensive driving structured to benefit motorists and non-motorists, alike.

 “We will have professional drivers, such as four-time Caribbean Motor Racing Champion, David Summerbell Jr., who will offer advice to and answer questions from patrons about defensive driving and motor racing,” Mr. Grennell explains. “And, there will also be several professional driving instructors from Grennell’s Driving School and other institutions, such as the Jamaica Automobile Association to facilitate questions about defensive driving.”

The aim is to encourage good road safety habits to reduce collisions, injuries and fatalities that impact negatively on healthcare and the economy, he says. 

Some motorists need on-going training, although they have successfully acquired their driver’s license, Mr. Grennell opines. “Why? Because there is a lot more to driving than being able to steer a car properly. Drivers should also be able to recognize road hazards and know how to respond to them quickly and appropriately.”
There are many other skills that drivers need to possess, in addition to their basic understanding of motor vehicles and the road code; and, those skills can be acquired quite easily, he explains.

One of those skills is simply learning to keep your calm he advises. “Part of the process of driving defensively is learning to put your ego aside. Responding aggressively to discourteous motorists can only compound the danger you face, as well as the safety of other road users.”

He notes for example, that yielding to other motorists, even in circumstances where the motorist should legally give way to you, can defuse potentially dangerous situations.

“And, paying attention and remaining alert at all times is a must when driving,” the veteran instructor adds. “To be in control you must know what is happening around you so that you can react instantly and correctly.” To train motorists in this respect, he explains, it is usually good to have them imagine scenarios that involve day to day risks on the road.  “By simply getting the driver to wonder ‘What if?’  you can get him or her to think about how to respond to potential danger. These scenarios help to keep the driver alert and prepared to spot hazards so that they can avoid a crash,” he says.

Mr. Grennell is a trained Defensive and Security Driving Instructor who has designed and conducted special driver training courses for the HEART Trust/ National Training Agency, as well as Grennell’s Driving School in Mona, St. Andrew, which he has been operating for more than ten years.

The driving school is a member of the National Safety Council, and offers a range of training and professional services including defensive and security driving and emergency vehicle operation in addition to training for learner drivers.