First Steps For The Irish Learner Driver.

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The main priority for today’s Learner Driver should not be passing the Driving Test but embracing the philosophy of skills for life initially.

Surely passing the Driving Test is the main objective? Not So!

Your main objective should be to acquire the necessary skills that will keep you, your passengers and all other road users safe. This makes sense, but is not taken on board by a very large proportion of Irish learner Drivers, with the result that we have an appalling accident record here which impacts on the whole community.

The first and arguably most important step for the new driver is to enrol with a professional Driving School who will set the foundation for both basic and advanced skills and ensure that safety is a priority. The lack of basic skills throughout the motoring population is very widespread and stems from several inherent flaws which are only now beginning to be addressed by the Government.

Thankfully our membership of the European Club is forcing the various agencies that are involved in the whole motoring scene to take action and implement the various Directives on a structured time scale.

The Irish Driving Test only began in 1966 more than thirty years after the UK introduced that most feared of life events!
Most of the recent EU changes have usually taken effect here three or four years after the UK. These would comprise the Driver Theory Test, revised Test Marking Sheet, Provisional License revisions, and Mechanical Checks on the Practical Driving Test.

Aspects still to be rolled out will be Mandatory Tuition for Motorcycles and Cars and the long awaited Examination and Registration of Driving Instructors. One of the reasons for our poor standards on the roads, particularly within the young driver community is that Driving Instructor standards are not subject to scrutiny. It is quite commonplace to see Instructors giving tuition in a pupils car with no L plates displayed. This shows a complete disregard for the basic rule of Law and by extension the calibre of instruction has to be mediocre at best.

What can you expect on your first lesson with a Professional Instructor? Will you be taken into a city centre? Will you be taken on a high speed carriageway? Will you be driving off down the road in just five minutes? Absolutely not!

What will happen is a concentrated session covering many diverse subjects relating to both the workings of the car and all its equipment and a look at the current Driving Scene into which the new Driver is entering for the first time. An investigation of all the basic mechanics that are the responsibility of the Driver, and which now form part of the Driving Test, will take place, and a brief discussion on the current requirements of the Driving Test.

Once this is accomplished, the basic Cockpit Drill will be looked at along with all instrumentation and secondary controls. Following on from this section, a brief discussion on the use of the Gearbox will take place and then on to the most mystical of Car equipment …the Clutch. (That is of course assuming that we are driving a car with a manual Gearbox, with its accompanying Stick Shift.)

It surprises most beginners that it is the Clutch that moves the car and not the Gas pedal. In fact, since you are going to be on a level stretch of road for the first tentative steps, it is interesting to demonstrate that the Car does indeed move with the foot no where near the Gas Pedal.
This is the point at which we are learning the first real Driving Skill; that of understanding the Term “Biting Point”and how to recognise it.
In the very early stages, a complete mastery of being able to bring the Clutch to” Biting Point” and hold it steady is the key to Driving away smoothly in every different situation. No amount of gas pedal usage will move the car unless the clutch is at Biting Point first. Once the car begins to move, and is building up a little momentum, then the clutch can be fully released gently and the Gas pedal then comes into play.

Next follows a brief demonstration of the clutch control technique by the Instructor followed by the Pupil.
The sequence of moving off safely comes next, followed by the Real Thing, but of course it’s no use getting going if you then don’t know how to stop safely which will also be demonstrated. You are now on the move practising starting and stopping and the adrenalin is finally pumping after all the Theory!

Guess What? You will be doing the whole procedure in Reverse within a few minutes. Yes that’s right…Reversing!Reversing is such an integral part of every day driving that it’s something that can’t be left till later. If it is put off, then chances are that fear of failure will begin to creep in and that is not the object of Driving Lessons.

So there you have, in graphic (almost) detail, the first steps on your Driving Career. If you are going to progress steadily then you should be prepared to do plenty of homework in between your Lessons, with a pad and pen as well as reading the Notes which your Instructor will have given you!

There is plenty more where this came from, so take time to look at all the resources available and you should be well on the way to the basic apprentice stage after three or four weeks. The Driving Test is not a consideration at this stage and will only be addressed when you have a suitable level of skill built up over several months. 

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