Wed | Oct 23, 2019

Texting around the wheel is the new drunk driving - Hyundai creates safe driving education programme for teens

Published:Monday | April 15, 2019 | 12:05 AM
From left: Melanie Kells, principal of AISK; grade-eight students Yanhua Liang and Nikole Okonmah; and Seth Grennell, senior driving instructor, Grennell’s Driving School.
From left: Melanie Kells, principal of AISK; grade-eight students Yanhua Liang and Nikole Okonmah; and Seth Grennell, senior driving instructor, Grennell’s Driving School.

“What Are you wearing tonight? I’m wearing that outfit I bought last week.” Glancing at this message on your smartphone seems simple, but engaging in this form of distracted driving can cause a life-threatening accident.

Now more than ever, we are compelled to stay connected so we can always be in the know. We find ourselves using our phones while doing several tasks, including driving. Doing the latter falls within the category of distracted driving, which refers to an attempt to engage in any activity while operating a motor vehicle. However, texting while driving is considered most dangerous as the average text sent or read by a driver takes their eyes off the road for five seconds. This replaces drunk drivers as the ultimate threat on the road.

“Distracted driving has been one of the major causes of accidents and road fatalities. This is because many people believe that they can multitask while driving. They do not realise that numerous things can happen on the road in a split second. For the benefit of all road users, it is important that drivers pay attention to the road and not their phone,” asserts Senior Superintendent of Police Calvin Allen, head of the Traffic and Highway Patrol Division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

Championing safe driving practices in schools is Magna Motors Limited, the official distributors of Hyundai motor vehicles in Jamaica. As part of their #myroadsafetyhero campaign, Hyundai recently launched an Intelligent Driving programme aligned with the National Road Safety Council and Grennell’s Driving School. The initiative aims to increase awareness on safe driving habits among teens so they can become safety champions on the road.

KNOWLEDGE-BASED TOOLS

Andrew Lee, Magna Motors sales and marketing executive, said: “At Hyundai, safety is our number one priority for all road users. Teens are the next generation of drivers, so we want to equip them with knowledge-based tools focused on good road safety habits they can employ when using the nation’s roads. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, so there is no better time to shed light on this issue among young drivers.”

The first seminar was held at American International School of Kingston (AISK), which engaged teachers and students about how to become drivers. The conversation covered all aspects of driving, from eligibility to teen-driver education tips and techniques, as well as a special emphasis on distracted driving.

“The students really need this information because driving is such an important safety issue and we want them to be safe. We have a high student-driver population, so I am happy they received this information, and I know they will share it with their friends. This will definitely help them make all the right decisions when they are behind the wheel,” said Melanie Kells, middle and high school principal of AISK.