Road crashes are the second leading cause of violent death in Jamaica and the risk is especially great for young new drivers, according to the National Road Safety Council.
Chris Hind, General Manager of NEM Insurance Company (Ja.) Limited, said that was the reason for the introduction of discounts on motor vehicle insurance premiums for new drivers who successfully complete the Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA) Driver Improvement Programme.
“Putting a young and inexperienced driver behind the wheel is a risky proposition,” he stated. “NEM Insurance wants to help them develop their skills and become better drivers.”
He pointed to data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, which shows that in 2010, some 16 per cent of the country’s population was persons aged 20-29. However, road fatalities for in this age bracket amounted for 22 percent of the total deaths in traffic collisions for that year, according to information from The Road Safety Unit of the Ministry of Transportation and Works.
By comparison, persons aged 30-39 comprised 17 percent of the population, but accounted for just 13 percent of the road fatalities.
“Most road accidents are caused by human behaviour,” Mr. Hind said, “and younger persons, in particular, are dying on our roads because of inexperience and risky practices.”
“NEM Insurance rewards good drivers through lower premiums,” the General Manager indicated. He added that, “we are also moving to provide useful options to those who do not have a solid track record of safe driving.”
The JAA Driver Improvement Programme seeks to inculcate the tenets of defensive driving. Open to any licensed operator of a motor vehicle, the course takes the driver beyond the basic mastery of the road code and the mechanics of driving.
Participants will be introduced to both the theoretical and practical aspects of defensive driving; and upon successful completion, will be certified for their participation. This will entitle graduates to a 15 percent discount on their motor vehicle insurance premium.
The NEM discounts are available to drivers under 21 years of age, or who have had a license for less than one year; those who have had accidents in the past; persons with little or no driving history in Jamaica; and drivers with excellent driving records, who wish to protect their vehicles.
“We want motorists to develop good habits as quickly as possible,” Mr. Hind stated. “The JAA Driver Improvement Programme helps push participants along the learning curve to develop valuable driving skill sets.”
The JAA is a subsidiary of NEM Insurance Company.