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.

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.

Posted by Louis on March 11, 2016

NCT Survey

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is carrying out a review to assess the current arrangements for the National Car Testing Service (NCTS). The NCTS is provided under contract by Applus Car Testing Service Ltd, which is responsible for all aspects of the delivery of the service. The RSA is seeking your input on the current service and on opportunities for further improvement. The RSA wish to hear from those who have positive feedback of the current service and also from those who may have suggestions for improvement. Where you consider changes are necessary, suggestions as to how the current NCTS arrangements can be improved would be welcomed. Please note that this review covers the service as a whole and if you have a specific complaint relating to a vehicle or test, please refer to the normal complaints procedure accessible through We would be grateful if you would complete this feedback form to assist us in understanding the opinions of NCTS customers and other stakeholders. We expect it will take about 10 minutes to complete. Thank you for your time.


Above is the introduction to the RSA’s Survey Monkey review of the NCT. Anyone with access to a computer should spend the valuable 10 minutes  that it takes to complete the survey. Go to to find it.

Of all the tests that the unfortunate motorist has to undergo, I hear most complaints railed against the operators of the NCT. It is your chance to present your tuppence worth! While it’s only a survey and you may not see any or many changes in the near future, let your shout be heard. Same for those who vote on election day. I often hear individuals say ‘Mine is only one vote, what will it matter?’ What folly. If it cannot be counted then it won’t matter. Look at the Keenagh count centre in Longford-Westmeath. The no. 2, 3  etc. vote counted bigtime.

The cost of the test at 55 euro and a retest at half that is there to challenge. The payment method by laser card only is mooted. God be with the death of the half crown and its horse and the penny with the clocking hen! Soon we won’t need to have a penny in the pocket.

If it is a visual retest only, at present, it’s free. My whinge – and I’m not from Mayo – is the appeal system. There is little effort made to let us know what is available as regards appealing. You are gone home with the unwanted result, when a complaint should have been made there and then with the supervisor. If your journey was from Ballynacarrigy to Kells, there’s not much point having to return to Kells to show your car fault the next day or in a week to the supervisor. He may tell you the fault could have been meddled with meanwhile. As for appealing to the independent assessors with your complaint, well, I found that they held exactly with the supervisor in the NCT centre. Oh, but you can always go to the District Court and appeal. Another waste of time, energy and money. How the NCT people know that. Yes you might get a favourable result. So did Pyrrhus defeat the Romans in the 3rd century, at what cost? He gave us the phrase, ‘A Pyrrhic victory.’

The pressure on those NCT garages is severe. They’re open seven days a week to cope. Surely that asks questions of the service provider as to the efficiency of that service. How much overtime is being worked? Are the demands too great on staff? If the queue is long, can the inspection be always adequate? Might one unroadworthy vehicle accidently get back on the road for a further year or two? Let your voice be heard.

As a driving instructor, I so often hear the innocent youngster bemoaning the fact that it’s difficult to acquire a first car. I remind them of the cost. The motorist is screwed from morning to night, January 1 to December 31 and in a leap year on February 29th! With quotes of up to 5,000 for a first insurance, just where would you be going? Protecting a No Claims Bonus is another costly affair with the majority of motorists paying out thousands in cash for the privilege. Then there’s NCT and the rest. And beware of yellow lines if you need a newspaper.

Like Frank Kelly might have said, boys a boys, it’s still great to be young. Enjoy the bus ride, though, for as long as you can.

Posted by Louis on January 11, 2016

2015 Was a Safer Year on Our Roads

It was a strange kind of Christmas and New Year, not much in the mould of Bing Crosby’s White one, rather it was in the Old Testament genre of Noah’s Ark sailing rudderless and failing to find Mount Ararat. Gloomy enough then for those who watched from the inside the endless droplets streaming down the window panes, or umbrellas whipping up a storm on the way to tinsel town. How much worse though for the unfortunates who laboured to protect their homes and businesses from unending streets and lanes of rivers that only a long month before, soaked up the Indian summer sunshine.

Daffodils bloomed in November, but when they reached the shop shelves they became like Kavanagh’s dandelions, ‘showing their unloved hearts to everyone.’ Few were tempted. Let us have out frost and snow back, Lord!

There was a chink of light coming the way of road accident statistics. It was a 12% reduction in road traffic fatalities compared to 2014. It spelled 165 deaths, 28 fewer than in ’14.

This favourable decline reverses the upward trend of ’13 and ’14 which saw 188 and 193 deaths respectively. The safest year was 2012 when 162 people were lost. Records have been kept since 1959.

Looking closer at those figures, 32 pedestrians and 9 cyclists were killed; the others were drivers, passengers and motorcyclists. One figure in all these is glaring and unacceptable – of the 75 drivers killed, 20 were not wearing seat belts, that was 11 drivers and 9 passengers. After all the publicity, all the warnings from the RSA, all the instruction, that is indeed damn’able. It could have been up to 20 more lives saved. They are own goals.

Better news comes in the pedestrian scene at 32, being a reduction of 9. Cyclists are down 4 to 9. It’s noteworthy that the cyclists killed were all aged over 35 and up to 75. Is this a sign of greater awareness and schools programmes paying off for the younger folk.

The key danger time of day was between 4pm and 6pm – the peak time for getting home from work and school. The months of July and December saw the higher fatality rates. Indeed, in the last two weeks of December, 15 people died on our roads, which is the worst since 2007. Damn’able.

The RSA will focus on driver distraction in the coming year, particularly mobile phones, drug and drink driving and seat belts. Play your part once you enter the public arena as a pedestrian, cyclist, motorcyclist, passenger or driver. Reduce that awful figure of 165 by 20%. Start at home; talk about it, think about it. Together we will. Imagine the consequences. Happy New Year.