DRIVING INSTRUCTORS HAVE attacked new rules that require learner drivers to sit at least 12 driving lessons before they are allowed to sit their full driving test – saying the rules offer no flexibility for faster or slower learners.
The new Essential Driver Training (EDT) regime, being introduced by the Road Safety Authority from April 4, and will require all drivers on a learner permit (formerly a provisional licence) to sit the mandatory number of lessons before they can sit a test.
Learners will also have to wait two weeks between each lesson for practice, and are told to sit at complete at least 36 hours of ‘homework’ with a licenced driver.
With driving lessons costing between €30 and €35 per hour in different parts of the country, the regime will mean that new learners will have to pay out as much as €420 in driving lessons simply to be allowed to sit a driving test.
This price would come on top of the cost of sitting the Driver Theory Test – currently €40.60 – and other associated costs such as having an eyesight exam.
Driving instructors have lashed out at the new rules, however, claiming that they do not allow for flexibility for drivers who are quicker or slower at picking up their driving skills.
“Training has always been tailored to individual drivers with people progressing at different rates,” Cathy Bacon, chairwoman of the Irish Driving Instructors Association, told the Irish Times. “The new mandatory lessons provide no flexibility for this.”
Others have complained that the new system – which will require instructors to sign a log book of lessons – may give learner drivers a false sense of competency, and said they would feel uneasy about signing the log book if they didn’t feel a driver was competent enough.
Padraig McHale of the Leinster Driving Campus in Kildare told the Irish Independent that the 12 lessons outlined were often not enough “to get someone up to driving test standard. You would need to double or treble that.”
Having to take three times the prescribed 12 lessons would mean drivers could spend over €1200 on tuition alone, as well as the other costs associated with learning to drive.
Another concern raised by instructors is the fact that the licenced driver with whom the ‘homework’ is completed cannot be audited – meaning they may pass on their bad habits to the new driver.
RTÉ News said the GMB union had criticised the RSA for not consulting driving instructors about the new scheme, and also complained that there was no requirement for the lessons to be passed – but merely completed instead.
This is in contrast to a new system of motorcycle tuition introduced at the end of last year, which requires new motorcyclists to reach a certain level of proficiency at the end of their lessons.