Anonymous | Give PPV drivers six months' training
(This column was penned by a concerned citizen who requested anonymity.)
I wish to compare a driving career with other careers.
A doctor trains for seven years before being accepted into the profession. This is a critical job in which he holds the power of death or life in his hands for every surgery he performs.
A driver of a public passenger bus holds the power of life and death over scores of persons each day if he makes at least four round trips per day. Which job is more critical - a driver or a doctor?
Second, a teacher trains to be a teacher, a nurse trains to be a nurse, yet an individual who wants to make driving his career just needs to turn up with a licence and he is ready. No period of training in customer service, defensive driving techniques or auto mechanics.
Third, tourist bus drivers are trained and certified to carry the tourists who visit our island, yet the drivers who transport our own people have nothing to show but a licence that appears to be a purchased good. It seems that local passengers just represent another dollar, so they are dragged on to the buses, squeezed like jackfruit, and then hastily carried like market bags, around curves and turns, to their destinations.
Fourth, do all public passenger vehicle drivers know about their tools? Do they know how their parts operate, the importance of servicing them, and how to detect when they are defective?
As a Jamaican who mourns each time a life is lost on our roads, I have assessed the situation and I now conclude that having a policeman at every mile of the road, from one point of Jamaica to the next, will not result in a change. Our minds have to be reshaped through training and knowledge. The skill is not the problem; we are facing a behavioural issue that results in the abuse of passengers and vehicles.
I humbly recommend that all drivers of public passenger vehicles go through training of at least six months where appropriate behavioural and driving skills are taught, responsible driving is emphasised, and basic auto mechanics is taught.
A CONSCIOUS DECISION
If an individual really needs to make this his career, he will be prepared to undertake studies. Too many of us drivers lack judgement because we cannot read and write. It takes more than a licence to make one a responsible driver; it takes the engagement of the mind, application of judgement and reason.
Driving is more than making a quick buck. It is a conscious decision to do for commuters what they cannot do for themselves, that is, transport them. It is serving the people of one's country in an effective, dignified and gracious way.
Our commuters and drivers have families, they have a life, they have a future, they aspire to see tomorrow. Driving was not designed to be a sport; it was designed to be a means of transportation to work, school and home, not to our graves.
We love our drivers and they are key to production in our country, they transport workers to factories and offices, and children to school. If drivers withhold their service, the country loses production. We thank our police for the effort, but too much is at stake here. Let's try and empower our drivers through education and restore dignity in this career.
For those who mourn, God is able.
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