Passing the Irish Driving Test, while a milestone for all new Drivers, cannot be equated with Good Driving Skills! Adequate performance on the day? . Yes? but Good Skills Level? No absolutely not!.Clearly you have to have a certain basic level of expertise to pass the Driving Test and demonstrate this on the day, which as we know by the statistics is very often lacking!.
One of the reasons for the introduction of the new Test Marking sheet four years ago was to highlight to all candidates Pass or Fail, the areas where more practise and experience was required! This is an excellent document and one used by Driving Instructors to not only prepare their pupils for what is ahead on the Test, but to help them and highlight the extent to which their competence needs to be raised in order to Pass!.If your Driving Test Marking sheet shows more than 3 or 4 Grade two Faults (50 % of the maximum allowed) then you should take the facts from within this sheet and realise that while you may have passed the Test you still have a very long way to go before becoming a skilful, safe and competent Driver. If your Driving Test was carried out in one of the pre accession European States then your standard is likely to be much higher after passing the Test than here in Ireland. The Irish Driving Test, while much improved in recent years still lags behind the rest of Europe as does our Training regime.Here are some of the areas that a new Driver should be aware of after Passing the Driving Test.1.
Excessive speed in the wrong place will lead to all kinds of problems from minor to very major!.2. Noise in the car creates a good deal of Distraction for any Driver; not just a Learner?so stereos and young children are a No?No.
Mobile (cell)phones should be switched off and messages checked at the end of the Journey! Passengers, particularly after celebrations at night or coming back from the Beach will create far too much distraction for a Novice Driver and should not be carried.3. Emotional upheaval such as Family crises, job problems, relationship problems and so on, all deposit a Crisis Chip in the Brain which makes the driver much more vulnerable to making serious mistakes because of distraction! If you have a serious situation to contend with it is better not to drive!.
4. Poor car maintenance and absence of a regular weekly check routine will often create an emergency on a trip which can lead to an accident as you get distracted with what is going on under the bonnet or elsewhere! Quite apart from the financial implications of car breakdowns and the ensuing repairs, a car left unattended after a breakdown is vulnerable to theft of parts of the vehicle, particularly wheels and if left in a dangerous spot impeding the road can be the cause of serious accidents.Worth pointing out here that where you park outside your house (if the driveway is already occupied) also has an effect on other drivers and can cause accidents if the car impedes the roadway.
Don't park opposite junctions or near junctions even if you live opposite one!.5. Even having a Puncture on a dangerous stretch of road requires good judgement in deciding where to stop the vehicle to change the wheel. Many Motorists over the years have been killed changing wheels, particularly at night because they have not taken the trouble to assess the danger level at the spot they park the vehicle.6.
Weather conditions play a big part in what will happen to you if you make an error of judgement! Windy weather is particularly hazardous if you are on an exposed carriageway or driving too fast on any other road. Most new Drivers (but not all) will be driving small light cars often with no load. These are very susceptible to being whipped up by an extra strong gust and taken across the road, with disastrous consequences.
7. Wet Weather. Since we should all be used to wet weather by now (and lots of it!) this is a regular occurrence and can cause serious accidents in certain situations.
In the Autumn months with leaves on the road and of course mud from your neighbouring Farmer, if you are travelling in the country, driving too fast will soon cause you to lose control, especially rounding a bend!.8. Migrant Cows on the road is another threat that you need to be aware of when driving in Cow country. Cows are resourceful beasts and when one maverick finds a way through a gap in the hedge, others will follow. On the subject of Bovine Bovver take care when a herd of Cows is being escorted (or is it Herded?). Stop well back from the crowd as a too-close approach will have the effect of often creating something akin to a John Wayne Movie.
I found this out to my cost just 300 metres from my house many years ago when the stampede encircled my car and one individual smashed a head light. We were driving a rare car for the time ?a Lancia Delta and paying for a new headlight meant porridge and bacon butties for a week! So be warned!.9. Just one final point about Nocturnal Cows since it's just as likely that you will come across one at Night as well as herds during the Day! They do not come with A.A- type luminous jackets and invariably are invisible.
They can come out of nowhere and unless you want to be looking for a new car you should be extra vigilant at night when driving in the country.A cow is akin to a brick wall or a tree in terms of Mass Muscle. If you hit one at speed you will have one dead cow, one dead car (which can be replaced) and possibly much much more to contend with!.
.Robin Piggott is a guitar toting (wishful thinking) Driving Instructor in Ireland who would rather be playing his Gibson Les Paul or his 330 and belting out his version of Death Letter by Son House instead of trying to persuade Young Drivers to exchange their Death Wish for a more life enhancing attitude on the road.
Cos it's an uphill battle and life is too short. Check out the blog buster Motorvating blog. A free mini course on passing the Driving Test First Time is on offer when the new web site goes live in a few days time.
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By: Robin Piggott