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 August, 2016

Posted by Louis on August 18, 2016

Farmer Safety on Public Roads

Farmers are advised to take great care when using machinery , tractors, trailers etc on the roads during summer months. The noon sun is now at its brilliant best and the first cut of silage is already underway which means farm machinery is in full swing on roads and in the meadows. Our temperatures are beating those of Barcelona  and Porto. Alas it’s time to rejoice, remembering all too well the floods of the past winter. So the bright rays should bring smiles and not sorrow.

Farm accidents and drownings are unfortunately associated with this finer time of year.

In 2014 there were 30 farming fatalities – a horrendous statistic. And last year there were 18 deaths.

This year so far has seen 4 such deaths. The cause is more often involving a tractor. Others include quad accidents, goring by a bull, silage pits, falling off a roof to electrocution usually by overhead wires. There’s always an element of carelessness involved. Don’t let it be you!

At this time of the year, the number of farm vehicles on the roads increases greatly thus increasing the risk of accidents. Farmers should post notice of machinery exiting onto a road by displaying a red flag and DANGER signs. Other motorists should also be aware of the likely presence of such machinery and display patience and caution if travelling behind those vehicles whose journeys are usually short. Access to farms is generally from the narrower side roads where greater care must be taken.

Drivers of farm tractors etc should always be conscious of other road users and if the road journey involves distance, pull in and allow those behind overtake. So, it is most important that tractors be fitted with adequate rear-view mirrors and be roadworthy. Indicators are vital as tractors/trailers are crossing traffic lanes and manoeuvering.  Trailers must not be overloaded as it may become unstable: the sight of such vehicle dipping into an average pothole even at  little speed, swaying left and right, should force anyone travelling behind to keep some distance.

Not very long ago I dealt with an unusual fire in a town not far from here. A lorry was drawing a load of straw bales, the latter catching fire. Damage to buildings amounted to c. €1m, despite being in the middle of a wide road. How did the fire start? The bales were built much too high and overhead electric wired lapped along the top of the load, making contact with each other.

Farmers, like other breeds, enjoy seeing their children grow up and some allow their 10 or 12 year olds up on the tractor, driving on his or her own and literally taking on the task of a trained driver. Too often we see those children even driving on public roads. Let them wait, their day will come.

Tractors emerging from fields onto the public road may have wheels laden with mud. If such wheels aren’t cleaned, this mud is deposited on the road posing obvious danger for other motorists or cyclists. I did hear recently of a farmer’s insurance company settling with a motorist who had a crash as a result of skidding on such mud deposit. Carelessness is, therefore, being punished and with a little care comes greater peace of mind. Slurry, silage, sand etc that spills onto the road causes the same danger.

Wider vehicles or those bearing large or wide loads should have an escort front and rear to warn other road users.

Adults should take particular care with children while using farm vehicles. The best policy is to remove them from the scene completely. It’s a difficult thing to do as the occasion creates great excitement for them –  look, assess and avoid regrets.

Posted by Louis on August 16, 2016

Defective Tyres a Major Factor in Road Collisions

The RSA, Gardai and Transport Department have launched a major TYRE SAFETY awareness campaign following a report that reveals that vehicle factors contributed to 1 in 8 collisions between ’08 and ’12. In this analysis, it shows that 111 people died and 30 were seriously injured in collisions where defective vehicles were a contributory factor. Defective brakes contributed to 18 deaths and 6 serious injuries.

This was revealed at the launch of a landmark new report ‘Pre-Crash Report on Vehicle Factors in Fatal Collisions’1, the first of its kind in Ireland, which analysed An Garda Síochána Forensic Collision Investigation reports in order to identify the main contributory factors in collisions on Irish roads.

The main findings of the report are:

·         Of 858 fatal collisions in Ireland between 2008 and 2012, motorised vehicle factors contributed to 101 collisions (12%)

·         Vehicle factors were a contributory factor in 12% of all collisions. Of these tyres were the main contributory factor accounting for 8%.

·         Of collisions where vehicle factors were noted the condition of tyres accounted for almost two thirds (64.1% or 66) of collisions

·         Defective tyres were more prevalent in single vehicle crashes (74.1%) when compared to multiple vehicle crashes (57.6%)

·         111 people lost their lives and 30 were seriously injured in collisions where vehicle defects were a contributory factor.

·         71 people were killed and 19 were seriously injured in a collision where a vehicle had defective tyres as a contributory factor.

·         18 people were killed and 6 were seriously injured in a collision where a vehicle had defective brakes

·         17-24 year old drivers accounted for almost half (47%) of fatal collisions involving defective, worn, over or underinflated tyres

·         The highest proportion of drivers with defective tyres were in Donegal (18.2%), followed by Cork, Kerry and Wexford (9.1% each)

·         Losing control on a bend on a regional road and on a road surface that was dry at the time were typical scenarios noted in the investigation reports.


A recent survey of driver behaviour conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes 2 for the RSA found that over half (53%) of drivers surveyed had experienced a problem with their tyres in the past five years. Even more worryingly, one third of drivers had experienced such problems while driving. This was more pronounced among those who drive on major roads, drive for work or are aged 34 or younger. This is despite 82% of drivers stating that they know how to check the air pressure in their tyres and 73% stating they know how to check the tread depth.


To highlight the dangers of driving with defective tyres, the RSA has launched a powerful new TV, radio, cinema and online advertising campaign entitled ‘Grip’. The purpose of the ad is to make people aware that tyres are the one point of contact their car has with the road. The TV ad shows a man losing his grip with everyone close to him, in a frame that spins, as tyres do – or as a car that has been flipped in a crash does. It shows just what the man has lost, providing a stark reminder that we all need to check our tyres to make sure we don’t lose grip with everything that matters to us.

So far this year, 43 people have been killed on Irish roads. This is an increase of 5 road deaths on the same period last year. That was until this morning, Tuesday, which added another 2 to this mounting list.

How can such defects exist with the NCT in place? Our minimum tread depth of 1.6 mm might be a factor. When a car is over 4 years, the NCT is two yearly, and over ten years old the test is annual. Depending on the age of the vehicles in the survey, a change could be on the cards.

The RSA advises that if your tyre has come into contact with a solid object, such as pothole and/or you have noticed uneven wear on your tyre, go to a tyre specialist to have it examined. Your wheel and axles need to be fully aligned to ensure safe driving and that the car is handling correctly. You may need to replace the tyre. When deciding what new tyre to purchase, don’t make that decision purely on budget and make sure safety is paramount to your decision making. Car manufacturers recommend that replacement tyres be the same type as those originally fitted to maintain all-round driving performance. Part worn tyres have been previously used and you do not know the road history which that tyre has travelled. Please consider carefully whether you are getting real value for money.  In some cases, you would have to buy three sets of part worn tyres in order to get the same life as a new set of tyres.

Posted by Louis on August 11, 2016

Motor Insurance – Rising Prices

‘Regulation’ appears to be a term that has got lost in the lexicon of politicians and bankers and insurers over the last decade. We’re all so familiar with the advertisements for banks, ending with ‘..Bank of xxx is regulated by the Financial Regulator.’ Where was that so-called Regulator when the bankers at Anglo Irish etc. were making fun of the good people of Ireland?

Now Insurance Companies claim that it is the increased number of costs and claims that are behind the huge premium hikes of the last two years.

Finian McGrath, FF finance spokesman, sought figures from Minister Noonan recently.

He said that 1.5 billion eur was paid out in claims in 2011; 1.06 bn was paid in ’12 and 987 million was paid out in ’13. McGrath claims that the pay-out for ’14 was 36% less than that of ’11. And of course figures aren’t available for ’15. And when in opposition, you call for a task force to be set up to investigate. So say all of us!

The upshot of all this is that insurance costs have rocketed by percentages that range from 25% to 60%. In my own case the increase was 25%: I had no claim and see no reason why this should be so. And 25% is a good, firm round number, a quarter increase on last year’s figure when inflation is close to zero. I can always write to Minister Noonan and seek a refund.

It is now claimed that Insurance Companies undercut each other in recent years to gain market share. They did to our detriment now, as we  have Quinn and Setanta gone bust and RSA were bailed out to the tune of 300 million. That’s what we are now paying for. More mismanagement, no regulation, no governance, just like we had under Bertie & Co. with the banks.

When I was a younger lad, PMPA Insurance went bust and Mother Ireland bailed her out. My generation was paying 3 pounds annual fee for them for most of our motoring life. And now this!

If it isn’t a levy, or on top of a levy, those companies are looking for other reasons to nail a customer to their cross. Any old reason at all, such as the age of the car; if it’s over 10 years old, despite passing the NCT; if you have a few penalty points. They are already looking at people’s job titles. How far do you drive to work? And why not, if our politicians ignore the vultures.

I heard a lady talk to Joe Duffy this week on the subject of her terminal cancer. She wants to take her last overseas holiday and required travel insurance. Being aware of her health situation, one of the questions posed to her on the application was, ‘How long do you expect to live.’ Even our ‘Talk to Joe’ broadcaster was exasperated.

Insurance Cos’ want to settle claims as quickly as possible to avoid legal costs. While they may say that the State did them no favours in doubling to 60,000eur the amount the Circuit Court may award in a claim, it may also be claimed that such scope saves higher expenses in going to the High Court. Same for District Court having jurisdiction to award 32,000.00, which can save the higher cost of going to the Circuit.

The Book of Quantum apparently has not been updated since it was introduced here some fifteen years ago. This book is a guide to appropriate compensation for different injuries, like the common one – whiplash, sore neck etc. depending on the duration of the pain. Apparently, a sore neck in Ireland is “worth” 3 times what it’s worth in England!  This Book is very detailed in N.I. and England and is a clear guide for settling claims.

Dodgy claims should be fully investigated by Insurance Companies. I saw a claim where a husband and wife collided with each other, not in the living room, but in their two cars. Their claim for injuries was settled in handsome favour of one. Soon after there was another claim from the same family. Their shop was robbed one night while the husband was away on business. Having investigated this ‘robbery’ it soon looked more likely that it was a set-up for compensation. Indeed the ‘husband’ was using a false name. The pair weren’t married at all. All this information was passed to the insurance investigators. The claim was paid without their further investigation. While that was some years past, it was unacceptable that any insurance investigator should have taken the easy option – let the people pay!

Irish people have been very patient in the face of paying for collapsed banks, a cut in wages and pensions, the crucifixion that is the universal social charge, property charges and of course water charges. The Greeks protested with fire and brimstone while we took it on the chin, except for Paul Murphy TD tearing up his water bill in front of the media.

Now we must shoulder a hike in insurance for all motor vehicles. There’s another that hasn’t been aired much. House insurance has also taken a hike.

While Insurance Companies blame lawyers’ fees and Courts costs, while others say it is simply to increase their profit margins: one glaring facet of it all is that our Regulator of the industry allows it all to happen.

It’s a long time since 64 AD when Emperor Nero is reputed to have fiddled while Rome burned. We cannot afford to suffer another scorching at the hands of the appointed ones.