South Meath Driving School

Making Irish Roads Safer

We use a 1.4 litre Toyota Yaris.

    Dual control means the tutor has a clutch and brake pedal on the passenger side for demonstration or emergency purposes.
    This car is very easy to drive and allows good vision in all directions.
    Diesel engine and manual gears.
    Seats are adjustable to suit small or tall people. Wing mirrors electronically adjustable
    Perfect for learning to drive.

Archive for November, 2014

Posted by Louis on November 26, 2014

Pedestrian Crossings

Pedestrian-controlled crossings in Ireland are many and varied. While they are now international in concept and design, they are only a generation or two old. The use of improbable animal symbols began in 1951 with the introduction of Zebra Crossings in England: gradually we followed suit, adopting most of the variations.

There are Pelican, Puffin, Toucan,  Pegasus and School crossings – as well as the better known Zebra.

A Zebra crossing is a path across the road marked with black and white stripes to give pedestrians the right over other traffic to cross. It is identifiable by black and white striped poles with flashing yellow beacons and zig-zag road markings for a distance of five meters either side of the crossing.

The Pelican is a signal-controlled crossing operated by pedestrians. After the red light shows, there’s flashing amber. The pedestrian still has right of way and, if there’s no pedestrian there, the motorist may proceed. At some Pelicans, there’s a bleeping sound to indicate to blind (or partially blind) pedestrians that they may cross.

The Puffin crossing hasn’t made its way here yet. Again it’s button-operated by the pedestrian to show a ‘green man.’

On Toucans, cyclists may ride across. In Ireland, it’s indicated by two parallel white lines about one meter apart, sometimes on a ramp. There are no flashing lights to indicate their presence.

The Pegasus is usually marked outside racecourses or areas where horses are trained. It’s popular in Scotland but not so in Ireland. It may be controlled by lights or just parallel white lines.

Pedestrian Refuges or traffic islands are placed in the middle of wider roads where there is no crossing point. Drivers have priority here. Pedestrians must not cross the second half of the road if there’s traffic passing.

Either side of the entry point for pedestrians at those crossings, iron railings are placed to stop people entering the road away from the assigned crossing.

Drivers should slow down, preferably to 2nd gears speed, on approaching those crossings. Indications to drivers of the presence of the crossings is usually marked by the ziz-zag lines as well as flashing lights or red/green lights operated by the pedestrian. Well, that is the case in most if not all advanced countries – except Ireland. And we have to go no further than Trim town to find serious anomalies in the presentation of those crossings.

At the exit from Railway Road at Leonard’s Corner, there’s two Toucan crossings almost side by side. There’s no advance Pedestrian sign to indicate such crossing.  And that’s just a few half meters from a Stop sign/Stop Line. So, a motorist must stop three times at that junction if Mattie Finnegan and Alice O’Toole happen to be crossing. Already, under Common Law, a pedestrian has right of way over a motorist at a junction. So what’s the need for a Toucan at all as in Leonard’s Corner exit. The Stop sign is very necessary there as motorists exiting to Athboygate need to stop because of the narrowness of the busy road there. Perhaps a more coherent demonstration to pedestrians of their right of way at junctions would be to put the Toucan (lines) right on the junction mouth (as part of the Stop Line.) It would be clearer to motorist and pedestrian.

The Zebra Crossing at Market St. is probably illegally constructed. My understanding is that there must be zig-zag lines painted on either side of the road for a distance of five meters from the crossing point. Those serve two purposes – to warn approaching traffic of the existence of the crossing and to prevent parking in that area. Cars, vans, jeeps, even lorries can now legally park right up to the crossing point at Market St, blocking out the view of a pedestrian to approaching drivers. There’s simply no space afforded to a driver, especially approaching from the Courthouse side, to see if anyone is about to cross. Even if such pedestrian steps onto the crossing and pauses, the approaching driver is blinded by vehicles parked there. How can a driver be culpable if a child runs across from behind a lorry and gets knocked over. It may mean more money in the parking meters for now. But what if a pedestrian is knocked down by a driver and the Insurer takes a civil action against the Council for negligence in their construction of the crossing?

The Zebra at the Post Office is another howler, set at a dangerous right angle position of a main street and opposite the busy junction of Watergate Street. It’s the busiest place in the whole town. For a driver exiting from Watergate St to Emmett St, it is fraught with danger. There’s no view into Market St until one moves out half the near lane, one has to let traffic from Emmett St pass, plus traffic turning right into Watergate St. Alas then, you get a break and it’s straight into the Zebra. My suggestion is to remove the Zebra from where it is and put a crossing at the mouth of Watergate St.

There’s a Yield sign at Mill St going towards Watergate St. It’s a leftover from a time when Loman St was a two-way road. It should have been removed with the new road layout.

The Zebra at the RC church is not safe for pedestrians walking out the side gate. Some just rush onto the crossing without a pause. It shouldn’t have been placed in line with the gate.

If the new road layout at Marcie’s has proven unpopular with local and stranger, then the junction at the by-pass with Newtown Road at White Lodge isn’t much better. There’s a new hatched area (those white stripes on the middle area of the road, into which it is illegal to enter) brought back to the Boyne side of the junction in the recent alteration. Coming from the Dublin Rd roundabout direction and attempting to turn into the minor road at about 5pm has been made very difficult, actually dangerous. I round the hatched area and, while waiting to let traffic from the Navan Rd to pass, the back of my car is partially in the outside lane. Well, it should be if one wanted to get smashed. The hatch should be removed altogether and replaced by a turning lane, narrow and short though it might be.

Heavy Goods Vehicles should be prevented from using this little narrow road to Newtown. It’s a Sli na Slainte route used by thousands of walkers, runners and streams of children enjoying the new river walk every day. It’s high time for proper regulation here with adequate signage preventing juggernauts from entering .

Have you noticed that there are zig-zag lines at the Zebra crossing approaching from Emmett St and at the Athboy Rd bypass near Lidl. I wonder why?

Posted by Louis on November 26, 2014

Car Insurance for the Learner Driver

Most parents will tell you their children are never reared. When the kid arrives at 17 a whole new plethora of expense begins, from finding a job to 3rd level fees to learning to drive.

In learning to drive, there are many considerations to hand especially in the area of websites and advertising.  Where to find this information and assessing it is another kettle of fish. Here I am going to outline what South Meath Driving School have to offer the student driver and compare it to that of one of the larger commercial companies such as Aviva. This involves driving lessons fees, its wider involvment for parents and car insurance aspects.

As stated on my website, my fee for a driving lesson this year is 30euro per hour or 360e for the Essential Driver Training programme of 12 compulsory lessons. In certain circumstances, the fee is 25e per lesson. While the lessons are per one hour, invariably an hour turns into 70 or more minutes ( the extra being free gratis.) Thus at the end of the 12 hour programme, the student has had the equivalent of at least 14 lessons in time. An important aspect for the parent is that their time or further expense is rarely involved in a lesson. Reason being that I meet the student at his/her own house and bring them back at lesson’s end – that’s if they live within a few or more miles of Trim town.

My car is a modern dual controlled, easy to operate and I’m Road Safety Authority qualified, with nine very successful years in the trade.

When a student first acquires a learner permit, s/he cannot undergo a driving test for at least six months. Driving lessons can be spread over that time, giving the student plenty of time to practise with a parent or other sponsor in between lessons. Of course I recommend that such practice sessions should not commence until three or four lessons have been delivered, in case of causing damage or injury. Getting such young person insurance at that early stage is unwise unless there’s plenty of cash to spare. Quotes of 3,000.00e and more are common. One would need to be using it to its fullest capacity. A learner cannot. So, why not just practise in areas off road where insurance is not required, such as a farmyard, private laneway or sections of closed roads etc. As the Cavan man sayeth, ‘Progress slowly.’

After ten lessons, I give the student a certificate to that effect and they can then get their own insurance cover with a particular company, nominated by me, at a price that is very attractive compared to any other quotation, probably. Of course there are terms and conditions. That would depend, inter alia, on age, type of cover sought etc. This sets the student up for their future in independent insurance cover without being a burden or risk to a parent’s own insurance. It must be remembered that where a parent adds their child as a named driver, they risk losing their own no claims bonus in the event of a claim on the part of such named driver.

Then compare the above plan with that of Aviva or other parties.

Driving lessons and insurance cover are in the deal. This is how it works. The driving instruction and motor insurance cover is a six month contract. Take John who applies for driving lessons for his son James who has acquired his first Learner Permit. James is given ‘free’ insurance for six months on the following terms. John must first take out his own car insurance with Aviva. (Should John already have insurance cover with another company, he must take out new cover with Aviva in any case in order to initiate his sons programme for driving lessons. John may now be doubly insured.) This new cover costs John about 500e. The 13 hour driving lessons will cost 499e. That’s 999euro which must be paid forthwith. James will still not get insurance cover until he has done his first lesson. So, he’s covered for the remainder of the six months.  James is a named driver on his father’s insurance now and cannot drive unless accompanied by the principal insured, his father. Should John live in, say, Trim or Longwood or Ballivor, he must accompany James to an assigned meeting centre such as Navan or Mullingar. He has to wait out the hour while James is undergoing his lesson. Therefore, for those 13 lessons the father has been engaged for a duration of 13 hours plus driving time of some six hours to and from the centre: that being a total of up to 20 hours in time alone, plus fuel and running costs. Remember the old saying, ‘I’ll give you a pound but not my time!’

Compare that aspect alone to South Meath Driving School where James was collected at his door and left home, paid 30 euro after each lesson and the father didn’t have to give up a minute of his time.

Should James be unable to fulfil an appointment with Aviva for his lesson, he must give 48 hours notice. Otherwise he will forfeit his prepaid fee. Would the South Meath School do that – not on your nanny.

Vouchers are issued for the taking of driving lessons usually within one year. Aviva’s vouchers are void after the year is up. South Meath will honour a voucher beyond the expiry date (within reason), albeit for a small additional charge if it’s an extended period.

And after those 13 lessons with Aviva, James will pay 40 euro for any further lesson; he is no longer insured and daddy must drive him to the centre and pass another boring hour alone. If James wants further insurance cover at this stage, he will have to reapply. On request, Aviva could not give me an answer as to what the cost might be or if there would be a reduction in the circumstances.

The above is based on what people have told me and on checking Aviva’s website.

In a word, with South Meath Driving School it’s 360euro (spread over six months) for the learner for the full EDT programme with little or no time usage from another family member; with Aviva it’s 999euro upfront, plus about 20 hours involvement of parent, plus running costs of a car to/from the particular centre. I rest my case.