Monday, September 05, 2005

Test your Ability on the Basics!

Can you answer the Following Questions?

Below is a list of Twenty Questions that every Learner Driver should be able to answer with 100% accuracy……..

If Not ….……you shouldn’t be sitting the Driving Test. Period!

1. Can you open the Bonnet of your car without fuss?

2. Can you identify all the important equipment that lives under the Bonnet?

3. Can you describe how to perform the checks on this Equipment?

4. Can you recognise when a Tyre is low on pressure?

5. Can you describe the three Checks on a tyre to ensure safety?

6. Can you stop correctly at a Stop sign?

7. Is it Mandatory to use the Handbrake at a Stop Sign?

8. Can you describe when not to use the Handbrake?

9. Do you know the meaning of “The Ten Second Rule”

10. What is the most acceptable distance from the Vehicle ahead when stopping?

11. What three steps would you take to improve safety in heavy rain?

12. What gear should you use when stopping?

13. When would you check your blind spot?

14. How often should you perform your basic mechanical checks?

15. Do you understand the Term “Opposite Lock”?

16. What is the first action you take in the event of a Stall?

17. Do you carry spare Bulbs and why is this important?

18. What is meant by Non-Standard Roundabout Configuration?

19. What should you do if a Dashboard Warning light illuminates?

20. How would you check your Brake Lights were functioning if on your own?

If you have any questions or queries on the above or other Driving problems we would be happy to reply to your e-mail.

The Astral Driving School can be found at Astral Driving School

The Arrive Alive.. Blog is at Arrive Alive

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Trans Continental Driving Test Rally

There are numerous Learner Drivers trying to circumvent the lengthy waiting list for a test appointment by traveling ridiculous distances to strange locations the other side of the planet.
My advice is don’t bother. Better option is to continue to prepare carefully in your own home territory with the help of a professional Driving Instructor. You have much more chance in getting though today's Test by being familiar with your surroundings. Unfamiliarity breeds..........??
Recently I had a pupil who tried getting to Ennis for a Driving Test (from Dublin) and only made it half way before having an altercation (polite word for Prang!) with a truck.
So if you are really desperate to get your full License sooner rather than later. Here are my tips.
(1) Take sufficient lessons with a Driving School.(a couple of hours tuition just before the Test will not cut it)
(2) Practice your reversing maneuvers until they are Perfect!(even a moderately done reverse can still attract a mark-down ) the two maneuvers are really the only time on your Test when you have complete control of the situation ,so why throw marks away ?
(3) Do a little out of town practice and carriageway time. It will build your experience and your confidence and help with your demeanor on the day of the Test. Driving round and round test routes until you are dizzy from it is a polarized approach.
(4) If you are in employment a letter drafted by the Boss and sent to Ballina requesting you be added to the Cancellation List will give you an appointment usually in about two (2) to Six(6) weeks. A word of advice here will get very little notice for a cancellation slot soooo you have to be READY FOR THE last minute panic lessons.

I could go on and on and on ......... there are so many other variables to consider. You could improve your chances by visiting our Blog at and checking out all our articles some of which are published here on but you could speed up the search process by logging onto
Safe Driving and good fortune on your Test ........ Luck has nothing to do with it!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Ten Tips on Choosing Your Irish Driving Instructor

First of all let’s examine why you would need a Driving Instructor in order to learn how to drive. Sure everyone needs a teacher, advisor or instructor, don’t they, when facing up to a new challenge? Or do they? Which comes first, the Chicken or the Egg?

Would you go out and Order an expensive Steinway Piano, never having played a note?

Would you go to your local swimming pool and jump in the deep end if you had never been in the water before?

Would you ring up your local light Aircraft Company and order a Cessna for next day delivery and ask them to have it tanked up and ready to go?

How about booking a two week scuba Diving holiday in the Aegean when all your experience to date is a deck chair on the beach at Torremolinos?

All of the above scenarios are about as inconceivable as you can possibly imagine; yet thousands of Irish learner Drivers are doing the equivalent every day of the week. Why so? Well it is a combination of the previously lax laws and now that we do actually have some legislation heading us in roughly the right direction, the inability of the Garda to enforce them .Yes we have had a good deal of changes to our system of Driving Tests and Licensing recently but Mandatory tuition has yet to be enacted. When it is introduced, hopefully we will be on the slow uphill climb to some degree of motoring competence instead of the current Motoring mayhem which we currently enjoy.

Let’s now have a look at the type of Instructor you should be looking for.

1. Look through the Golden Pages and try to make a short list of those Driving Schools with a Web Site. You could of course, do a quick search on Google using various search terms. A School with a web site is one who takes their profession seriously and who will provide quite a lot of free, but invaluable information .Do not regard a web site as purely a smart way of attracting more pupils. Look at it as a way of getting some valuable info, together with an inside peek at who the Instructor might be, and how he or she does business.

2. Look for a school with qualified Instructors. Now in Ireland at present, but not for long, anyone can call themselves a qualified Instructor, never having so much as looked at an advanced Driving Course or taken any Examinations. We have The Driving Instructor Register here which has been examining Driving Tutors on a voluntary basis since 1996. A good number of Driving Instructors have passed these exams and will be able to impart an advanced level of tuition.

3. Don’t just ring up a Driving School and with your first sentence ask what prices are your lessons. You are perfectly entitled to query prices, which will be very much the same from all established Schools. Schools that have not been established for long or who are desperate for business will be sometimes somewhat cheaper. Any one that is substantially less than the bunch should be avoided since this is not a profession that is cheap to run and today you get what you pay for .Cheap lessons are exactly that!

4. Ask the age of the Instructor and how long they have been driving. European Driving School standards require that an Instructor must have been driving on a full licence for at least three if not four years. Frankly, anyone with less than ten years driving experience will not have the necessary skills to be a worthwhile choice in my view. We are talking here about teaching pupils skills for life and not a half-hearted few lessons prior to the Driving Test, which sadly seems to be a favourite choice of a good many Irish learner Drivers.

5. Ask what make and model the Driving School car is. There are many models in use by Driving Schools and of course all Instructors tend to have their own particular favourites. Diesel models are extremely economical for the Instructor who lives in the country and who does a lot of mileage. Diesel models are on the increase due to their improved performance over past years and their economy. They also hold their value well and while a little more expensive to maintain they go on for ever if looked after.

6. Ask the Instructor whether or not country road and high speed carriageway Driving are include in the Teaching Syllabus. These form a large part of your every day driving in Ireland and are very important skills to have right from the start. Ask yourself the question...are you going to be spending the bulk of your driving career, driving around your local area or into town and back; or are you going to be visiting the Coast, going on Holiday to the far reaches of the country or even Dublin. Of course you are; after all isn’t this why you are buying a car in the first place? If you are only concerned with transporting yourself within your local area it’s much cheaper, believe me, to hire a Taxi!

7. Ask your proposed Instructor does she or he give Motorway Tuition. While we don’t have the same level of Motorways here in Ireland, as in the U.K or Europe, we do have stretches between major cities and particularly in the Dublin area and of course over the coming years there will be many more miles of Motorway I am sure. These marvels of Engineering require a higher degree of skill and lots of practise in your car before one can safely negotiate Dublin or abroad. This is why Learner Drivers are not permitted on Motorways. We are lucky here in Limerick, in that we have a new ring road carriageway, spanning about 20 miles which is identical in layout and signage to a Motorway apart from the speed limit and the colour of said signs. Perfect for legal high speed Motorway style practise within five minutes or so drive from most parts of the City.

8. Most Driving Schools will usually book lessons at least a week ahead, so don’t expect to ring up and get a lesson that day or even the next. Occasionally if you are lucky, and the School has a vacant slot they will take you but it’s the exception rather than the rule. If the School can’t take you for a week be patient it will be well worth the wait.

9. A good Driving Instructor will ask you for a fair bit of information on the phone in order to gauge your level of skill. He or she will ask questions that may not seem relevant, when all you, as a pupil want to do is to get behind the wheel .Believe me they will be; they will all be designed to build up your driver profile and should not be construed as being nosy!

10. A Professional Instructor will take with a pinch of salt your efforts at explaining just how well you can drive and how you only need a bit of practise here and there at reversing or hill starts. Don’t be defensive, you are about to learn one of the most important life building and life saving skills. A good Instructor will not venture out in your own car, if you already have one, until he or she has seen your capabilities or you have described in great detail your experience. eg. one years driving and getting ready to sit the Driving Test.

This is the first in a series of “Ten Tips” to better and safer Driving.
About the Author: - Robin Piggott has spent a lifetime behind the wheel and is passionate about his Profession (and many other pursuits as well).The next generation of Drivers needs to develop a passion for excellence if they are to stay safe and arrive alive! Visit the Astral School of Motoring Web site at: -

Friday, August 26, 2005

Ten Good Reasons for Taking Driving Lessons

10 Good Reasons for taking Driving Lessons. A guide for the Irish Learner Driver.

In a driving context, most of the decisions that you take and the techniques that you employ, will have both an economic and a safety impact. The decision to take driving lessons is really a simple one but one that will have far reaching consequences well into the future. Most, if not all, poor or dangerous habits in today’s drivers stem from the lack of professional tuition at the outset. In this second in a series of articles designed to assist today’s learner drivers we will have a look at the benefits in taking Professional Tuition.

1. Taking lessons will greatly improve your chances of staying safe and accident free since providing you retain what you have been taught, you will be probably better than many motorists who have been driving for considerably longer. Lack of sufficient training, or even no training at all which is common in Ireland, will inevitably lead to accidents at a very early stage in the driving career. Accidents are to be avoided at all costs. After all isn’t the safety of the driver, the passengers and other road users the paramount priority?

2. A course of lessons at the start of your driving career and not one month from your Driving Test, will give you the confidence you need to continue the learning process, and will form the foundation for safe motoring.

3. Taking a course of lessons will give you the chance to be accepted by an insurance company for your first Insurance policy. In fact most companies will insist on a minimum number of lessons completed by a recognised school, before a son or daughter will be admitted onto a Parent’s policy.

4. On a very topical note, the Irish Insurer Hibernian, in conjunction with the Institute of Advanced Motorists, has extended its successful Ignition scheme to provisional license holders since January 2005.Learner drivers that pass the one hour driving assessment, will be offered a 21% reduction on their insurance. This is a substantial reduction for any new driver, particularly young males under 25 years of age, and well worth achieving. Just being in the possession of a provisional license will not suffice to pass this test. A course of lessons will be needed in order to achieve the required standard and the test should not be booked until quite a high level of both competence and confidence has been reached.

5. Passing the Department of Transport Driving Test, sooner rather than later, will result in further reductions in already high Insurance costs. Lessons taken just before the Driving Test will not cut it in today’s Test environment; there is just too much to learn if one wants to be successful first time out.

6. The long waiting list for the Irish Driving Test is a great inconvenience for many learner Drivers and also their Driving Instructors. The long wait is accentuated by the huge numbers of learners who do not prepare adequately with a professional school and then are forced to re sit their Test sometimes several times over. Career aspirations can easily be affected if the journey to a full License is overly prolonged.

7. Obtaining a full driving license promptly will speed up the reduction in your insurance premiums via your annual no claims bonus, providing of course you are not involved in any accidents.

8. As a fully licensed Driver you will have much greater opportunity to shop around for a competitive insurance quote, since there are only a very few companies who will insure provisional license holders and then only at a huge premium.

9. As an addition to item number 4 as a fully licensed Driver, you may apply for the more advanced Hibernian Ignition course, providing you are in your first five years of driving .This is a full day course, the cost of which can be recouped, if you pass the practical driving assessment at the end of the day. The reduction in insurance premium for the successful candidate can be upwards of 30%, so again very worthwhile .Drivers in this category should take a refresher course with a driving school to ensure that any bad habits or techniques are eradicated. Once again it is worth pointing out that the length of your driving experience is not a guarantee of success unless you started on the right foot to begin with!

10. If, in the early days of your working life you are unlucky enough to find yourself jobless through either, takeovers, cutbacks or closures, a full Driving License will enable you to pick up an interim job very quickly while you regroup and examine your future options. There is a shortage of drivers to fill current vacancies in Europe, particularly in the commercial sector so there are great opportunities for young qualified drivers who have been well trained.

Both career and promotional opportunities abound for the fully licensed driver in any organisation. Faced with two candidates of similar qualifications, an employer will naturally favour the person with the full license pretty much every time.

Astral Driving School.Limerick.

(c) Astral Driving School.Limerick.Ireland 2000-2005

The Need For Driving Lessons...

The Need for Driving Lessons ?


With the ever increasing number of road accidents culminating in not just tragic deaths but many life changing injuries, it is essential to train with a Professional Driving School! This is a costly exercise but will be repaid in time since you will be much less likely to be involved in one of the constant daily incidents (AKA Accidents !) most of which are TOTALLY avoidable ! !

A Professional School will teach you above and beyond the current standards required to pass the Driving Test! The Current Driving Test regulations, while a significant improvement on previous years, still have a long way to go before reaching the top of the European ladder!

It is anticipated that Mandatory Tuition will be introduced for Car Drivers before very long! It is imminent for Motorcyclists and as I write this page there have been nine fatalities in the last 24 hours ……… two of these tragedies involved Motorcycles!

To give you an example of a top European Standard, take Germany for example…….Here one has to complete fifty hours of tuition (yes 50 ! ) before you are allowed to sit the Driving Test! This comprises 25 hours of Theory and 25 hours of Practical! As a Parent who has needed the services of two Au-Pairs in the last few years, both of whom were German, I can honestly say that their standard of Driving was so far ahead of the average Irish Driver it was embarrassing. Both these Girls were 21 years old with full German Licenses and had been driving on these for approximately 18 months!

All the recent changes to the Driving Test and those coming in the future are as a result of E.U.Directives which have to be implemented by the Government and are really long overdue.

Copyright-Astral School of Motoring © 2004

posted by Astral Driving School Ireland @ 3:04 PM

Learner Drivers
Driving in Ireland