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Using the IPDE process to prevent road fatalities

Published:Sunday | November 24, 2019 | 12:25 AMPaul Glenroy Messam - Automotives Writer

Each year, unfortunately, a number of citizens lose their lives in auto accidents. Before this article was published, the road fatalities were 347 in Jamaica. Naturally, this is a shocking and tragic total.

The IPDE is an organised ‘thinking-doing process’ that we can use over and over again in performing the driving task. There are four steps involved in this IPDE process.


The driver locates the potential hazards in the driving scene.


This is where the driver of the motor vehicle, determines where possible points of conflict may be.

Step 3: DECIDE

The driver determines what actions to take and when and where to take them.


The driver must act by manoeuvring the motor vehicle to avoid any conflicts on the roads.

“The IPDE process will help our drivers become a defensive driver,” says Norris Christian, a driving instructor. “Defensive driving, according to the motto of the Advanced Driver Training Centre, is about saving lives, time, and money.”

According to Christian, defensive driving is the art of protecting yourself and others from dangerous and unexpected changes in the driving environment. The defensive driver anticipates actions of other road users and is willing to adjust their speed and position if they make mistakes. The defensive driver also adjusts to changes in weather and road conditions.

“It is important to note that with practice, the IPDE process will become a natural part of the driver’s psyche,” says Christian.

Collisions and traffic tie-ups are examples of challenges on our roadways. Driver judgement is a factor in avoiding or minimising the danger in every breakdown. Sometimes the tie-up on the road is caused by repair work on the roadway. Therefore, drivers are responsible for driving in a safe, cooperative manner. Maybe we need to stop saying ‘accidents’, when we are referring to collisions or crashes. The word ‘accident’ suggests’ something that ‘just happens’ to a person – something a driver could not avoid. The word ‘collision’, according to the dictionary, means “an accident in which a person or vehicle that is moving crashes into something”.

However, most collisions do not just happen; they are caused.

“The causes of collisions can be determined, and steps can be taken to eliminate many of the causes,” says Dr McKenzie of the University of the West Indies, Mona. “All drivers are responsible for keeping their cars properly maintained, for adjusting to roadway conditions, and for staying alert while driving,” she adds.