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Learning to Drive Irish Style

Learning to Drive Irish StyleBy Robin Piggott
Ireland has seen the most explosive growth to its economy in the last ten years as thousands of well educated graduates pour onto the Jobs market. Many have found success overseas as entrepreneurs and it is well known that when someone leaves their own backyard for pastures new they tend to work much harder.
When it comes to Learning to drive however, the opposite is the case and we have a situation here in Ireland that is beyond belief. Only we have to believe it since it is now one of the hottest topics throughout the media. We are one of the few developed countries not just in Europe, but in the World as a whole, that has failed to put into place a sensible, manageable Learner Driver system that will save lives and reduce the misery caused by needless teenage deaths behind the wheel.
The system, for what its worth (and it sure isnt worth much) was unable to cope with the changing demographics in Ireland seven years ago. Today Learning to Drive in Ireland is in free fall with Drivers not being taught the basics; not being supervised; not preparing adequately for the Driving Test and being allowed to drive away after failing the Driving Test with not a care in the world.
The basic structure as it pertains in other countries is that you must have supervised driving at all times when learning to drive until passing the driving Test and that you must take Driving Lessons from an accredited Driving School before you are allowed to sit the Driving Test.
Sitting the Driving Test when you cannot drive is rather like booking a Scuba Diving holiday in a faraway place when you have only paddled in the shallow end of your local swimming pool. No one would dream of hiring Scuba gear without first having serious professional instruction. In fact the gear wouldnt even be handed out without questions being asked by the owner of the Scuba Shop. So learning to Drive comes first not after failing the Driving Test several times.
The big hullabaloo about the ever lengthening wait for a Driving Test appointment in Ireland is a ridiculous smokescreen in my opinion, which many Politicians have utilised to get publicity over the last two years.
If there is no formalised legal structure for Learning to Drive and then sitting the Driving Test, then it is obvious that many new drivers, in fact the majority, are going to take the easy way out and try to bluff their way through. The results most of the time will be failure on the Driving Test and rejoining the end of the queue which just gets longer.
It has been a vicious circle for years and there is no real end in sight until the newly established Road Safety Authority manages to persuade the Department of Transport to actually implement all the various learning to drive recommendations that have been piling up on Ministerial desks for years.
There is a chance to reduce the death toll on Irish roads but only when a suitably rigid and enforced Learner Driver and Driving Test regime is put in place. The coming year will see some of the proposals implemented but of course the results will take quite some time to be recognisable.
In the meantime the practise of Irish Learner Drivers buying a car before learning to drive and applying for the Driving Test and then wondering why they fail, or as is often the case, have serious accidents, will continue with the obvious painful results.
Robin Piggott is a Driving Instructor in Ireland who brings four decades of experience to his Astral Driving School based in Limerick. His newly refurbed web site can be found at Here you can find a treasure trove of everything for the Learner Driver and also pages for the visitor who is contemplating Touring Ireland by Car. Pick up a free seven part mini course "Passing the Driving Test First Time" and stack the cards in your favour.
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