The growing risks along Jamaica’s 21,000 kilometres of roadways have increased motorists’ demands for quick and reliable roadside assistance, Duane Ellis, Operations Manager at the Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA), says.
“Breakdowns and accidents occur anytime and happen anywhere,” Mr. Ellis said, citing a number of elements that contribute to road risks, including poor road conditions, poor driving habits, and defective vehicles, which individually and collectively often lead to crashes.
Between January and September alone last year there were 6934 road traffic accidents statistics from the Jamaica Constabulary Force Traffic Division revealed; and approximately 255 people died as a result, the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) reported.
The JAA plays an active role in the promotion of Road Safety in concert with the NRSC and the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transportation and Works; and the Association is also responsive to motorists in distress.
“Given the many risks we know motorists face, the JAA provides a highly qualified team of technicians who can perform very basic to highly complex tasks,” Mr. Ellis said. The JAA’s response technicians can operate all standard forms of land transportation, including motorcycles, and are qualified automotive technicians.
These highly trained technicians are located across the island, and they respond promptly to emergency calls from stranded motorists anywhere in the island, the Operations Manager said, noting that the Association’s 24/7 Call Centre handles calls with dispatch, and maintains a link between the motorist and the technician, as well as security, if necessary.
“Members of the response team will manage every aspect of road emergency, from assessing security concerns on the spot, coordinating transportation of a disabled vehicle to a garage; providing medical assistance, to diagnosing electrical and mechanical problems to the vehicle,” Mr. Ellis explains, adding that, the majority of the Association’s technicians are internationally certified.
Accident scene reconstruction is also a capability all response technicians possess, in order to assist with crash investigations.
“The JAA gave me assurance,” stated Jennifer Jones, an IT Specialist, who was recently involved in a road crash while on her way home from church on a Sunday afternoon in November last year.
“My husband and I were on our way home on the Portmore Toll Road when it began to rain. Our vehicle developed a skid and the car got out of control and crashed into a median before coming to a halt in the middle of the road,” Mrs. Jones recalled.
She said that they carefully drove the car on to the soft shoulder of the road and made a phone call to the JAA Call Centre. In less than ten minutes, a response technician arrived to assist the couple.
“The phone only rang once before someone at the Call Centre answered and after taking our names, number, description and location, a technician immediately came to our assistance.”
Mrs. Jones attests that the JAA stayed with them throughout the entire process. “The JAA operator called us back to ensure the technician arrived, and while the technician was there he took our papers and called a wrecker to assist us. He then took us to the police station to report the incident and waited until we were ready to take the car to a garage of our choice,” she said.
Ask Dr. Leahcim Semaj about the care he received from the JAA and he will give a similar testimony. On his way to St. Ann with his wife about 9:00 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, their sports utility vehicle broke down in the Bog Walk Gorge, shortly after passing over the dangerous Flat Bridge. The vehicle lost its fan belt and began to overheat.
“It was New Year’s Eve, therefore I wasn’t sure how long they would take to respond after I called,” the prominent psychologist said. “But within 20 minutes the technician arrived and shortly after the wrecker also came, so it was very efficient,” he said commending the service.
The vehicle was placed on the wrecker and the couple and their vehicle were transported to their mechanic in Kingston. “They even offered to provide us with security on the scene,” Dr. Semaj recalled.
“The JAA Call Centre is always ready to accept calls, and can dispatch a security team to your assistance if necessary,” Mr. Ellis said.
In addition to its roadside assistance, the JAA also offers a number of other services and products to enhance the motoring experience, including GPS navigation systems, which is available from its office at 7 Central Avenue, across from the Motor Vehicle Examination Depot in Swallowfield, St. Andrew.
“We assure the best quality motoring experience by continuing to improve our service and enhancing the performance of our team,” Mr. Ellis said.