Roadside assistance is a useful bit of insurance in a country where driving a car exposes you to a wide range of risks, says Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA) General Manager, Alan Beckford.
You are four and a half times more likely to die in a road incident in Jamaica than in the United States, relative to the number of vehicles on the road. This data, from the Association for Safe International Road Travel, is one simple measure of the relative standard of driving, road conditions and vehicle maintenance levels in the island.
“Incidents happen and vehicles break down,” Mr. Beckford said. Knowing this, “The JAA aims to provide its members with peace of mind on the roadways.”
Established in 1924, the core function of the JAA then and now has been to: help motorists cope with the difficulties on the island’s roads.
“We have response technicians who are located in parishes across the island, so that it takes no more than 40 minutes to reach a member in distress,” the JAA General Manager said. “Normally it only takes 15 minutes.”
The response teams cover every parish in the island and include—a trained technician the technicians are trained in basic first aid as well as someone trained in first aid. The techinician will try to analyse the problem to see whether the vehicle can be fixed on the spot.
This service is provided through JAA employed techinicans positioned around the island, who are on standby to serve the JAA members. The teams can also provide fuel or locksmith assistance, if that is the requirement. If the issue cannot be dealt with on the spot, a tow service will remove the vehicle.
These services, available around the clock; and are just a telephone call away, facilitated by a 24/7 Call Centre.
“Once a call comes to us, an agent gathers the details from the caller and makes contact with a technician. When the technician arrives on the scene, he assesses the situation to determine whether a wrecker is needed,” according to Carol Madden, Manager of the JAA Call Centre. The Agent can also call delete Atlas Security, an ambulance or a taxi, based on what is required.
“We maintain constant communication with our member so that he or she knows the progress of the response team,” she explained. The Call Centre Agent also provides location instructions to the team to minimize the response period.
Mrs. Madden noted that a majority of calls come from the Corporate Area, which is perhaps not surprising, given its population concentration.
“A simple problem such as a punctured tyre on a dark highway can have serious repercussions,” Mrs. Madden explained. “Therefore, it is a very comforting experience to be able to call and get help.”
Even more comforting is the knowledge that, “When you contact our Call Centre, an armed response security team is dispatched for all calls at night and when needed in the day” Mr. Beckford pointed out. Crime is quite often a major concern for stranded motorists, particularly in high risk areas, and at night.
The bright yellow JAA vans, motorbikes and mobile offices and accident help desks provide more than a splash of colour to the island’s roadways; they provide an essential service for needy motorists.
In line with its original purpose, the JAA also offers options to drivers, to ease the burdens of vehicle ownership; and as a bonus, discounts are available to from more than 200 merchants locally and over 155,000 internationally, via the ‘Show Your Card and Save’ programme.
“It is not only a roadside service that we offer,” Mr. Beckford maintained, “we also provide motorists with access to motor vehicle-related and other resources to enhance their driving experience, and reduce their overhead costs.”