Tue | Aug 21, 2018

Drivers urged to avoid multitasking behind the wheel

Published:Monday | July 23, 2018 | 12:00 AM

There are 24 hours in a day, yet we do not seem to have enough time to accomplish all that we set out to achieve, creating a constant need to multitask. While juggling many activities may be necessary in some circumstances, it is a definite no-no for others.

"It's never, ever OK to multi-task while driving. That requires your full and complete focus," asserts Senior Superintendent Calvin Allen, head of the Traffic and Highway Patrol Division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

It's a phenomenon known as distracted driving and refers to any attempt to engage in multiple activities, such as eating, fiddling with the stereo, texting and taking calls while driving. What may seem like simple tasks can be downright detrimental.

"Many persons believe they can multitask, but the slightest distraction can lead to a fatal accident. People do not realise that their motor vehicle is very responsive. If you are not focusing on the road, the car is going to go in the direction in which the steering wheel is taking you, which may just be off the road or into oncoming traffic," said Allen.

With more than 150 lives lost in car crashes since the start of the year, Allen and other road-safety advocates are imploring Jamaicans to take measures to ensure maximum safety when using the nation's roads. Through its responsible consumption programme, Red Stripe's Drink Right campaign this year shifted its focus to include distracted driving and its effects.

"We've always championed road safety and adapted our programme to meet the current needs. And based on what we're seeing and what the statistics are showing, distracted driving has become a serious issue to watch," said Tyheissa Williams, Red Stripe's communications and sustainability executive.

In addition to the focus on distracted driving, Williams noted that the company actively discourages drinking and driving.

"We recently launched the 'Have a Ride on Us' campaign, where we have partnered with On Time Taxi Service to provide taxi vouchers for lucky patrons at our events".

In this way, she explained, the initiative provides a designated driver for those who have been consuming alcohol.

"An initiative like this has the ability to save lives, and we commend Red Stripe for the responsible way in which it operates," said Allen.