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learning to drive

Learning to drive - the essentials to get you in gear

Learning to drive can be stressful and expensive but we are here to make it that little bit easier.

LEARNING TO DRIVE can be stressful and expensive, so you want to do it right and pass first time round. Here are some helpful tips that will hopefully make learning to drive that little bit easier.

You’ve studied hard and passed the theory test, applied for your learner’s permit and you are ready to get behind the wheel. So, now what?

Shutterstock / Gustavo Frazao Shutterstock / Gustavo Frazao / Gustavo Frazao

In most cases, you need to wait six months from the date your learner permit was issued before you can sit your driving test. Look at your learner permit. See the code 991 on the restriction column? Follow that row to the ‘from’ column and note the date. You need to add six months to this date to find out when you can sit your test.

The reason for this is to encourage learner drivers to practice and build up driving experience as research shows that the longer a learner is supervised while driving the less likely they are to be involved in a collision.

You must complete the Essential Driver Training (EDT) course before taking your driving test. The EDT course is made up of 12 one-hour lessons, which are provided by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) Approved Driving Instructors (ADI).

Shutterstock / michaeljung Shutterstock / michaeljung / michaeljung

You don’t have to do all 12 lessons with the one ADI, you can change instructors, and the RSA doesn’t set the cost of the course so you should shop around and find one that offers good value for money in a location that suits you. Find an instructor here, on the RSA website.

The EDT course is just part of your training and you will need to get more experience by taking extra lessons and practising what you have learned with your Sponsor -someone who holds a full licence for at least two years, has driving experience and is willing to supervise you whilst you drive.

Again, the more practice you take the more confident you will become behind the wheel.

The rest is up to you. You need to get the most out of your EDT course, instructor and sponsor. The number one tip for passing your driving test is to listen to your instructors. They know the rules of the road and all the things you need to do to pass your test. Listen to them, ask them questions and take their criticisms and pointers seriously and try to incorporate them into your driving.

Photocall Ireland! Photocall Ireland!

Here are the most common faults that contribute to people failing their driving test:

  • inadequate observation moving off, at junctions, at roundabouts and when changing lanes
  • failure to anticipate the actions of other drivers
  • incorrect road position on the straight, on bends, turning left, turning right, at roundabouts, and when overtaking
  • inadequate progress at junctions, roundabouts, on the straight, and when overtaking
  • incorrect, inadequate or inappropriate use of mirrors and signals
  • non-compliance with traffic controls, e.g. road signs and markings and traffic lights
  • incorrect, inadequate or inappropriate use of vehicle controls, including gears, clutch, accelerator, steering, handbrake, footbrake, and secondary controls
  • excessive speed for the road or traffic conditions
  • failure to yield the right of way to others
  • lack of competence in the reverse and turnabout manoeuvres

So what can you do to reduce the likelihood of your failing your test?

Practice: the test route is about 8km long and the test will last about 40 minutes and it is designed to test your driving under a variety of road and traffic conditions.

Gareth Chaney / Photocall Ireland! Gareth Chaney / Photocall Ireland! / Photocall Ireland!

Decide which test centre you want to take your test from and practice the driving test routes as much as possible. Become familiar with all the traffic lights, road signs, markings and speed limits along the route so that you aren’t caught out on the day of the test. Notice where you can and cannot park, pull over and stop, as you will be asked to do these things during your test.

Your test will also include questions on the Rules of the Road (including identifying road signs), demonstrating hand signals, reversing around a corner, a turnabout in the road i.e a three-point turn and a hill start. Again, the more practice you have carrying out these manoeuvres the more confident you will become.

Also, the more familiar you are with your car the better you will be at knowing where the controls are. Try to practice as much as possible in the car that you will be sitting the test in. Try not do your test in an unfamiliar car.

Once you pass your test you have to display ‘N’ plates on your vehicle for two years, but you can drive unaccompanied and on motorways.

Shutterstock / Duncan Andison Shutterstock / Duncan Andison / Duncan Andison

However, do yourself and other drivers a favour and get night time and motorway driving lessons. Driving at high speed and in the dark is difficult and dangerous and getting lessons in both of these areas is a sensible, wise and worthwhile thing to do.

READ: Goodwood Festival of Speed

READ: My best road trip – north Norway