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 the ‘Cars’ Category

Posted by Louis on June 20, 2013

Irish Rally Co-Driver

Posted by Louis on January 29, 2013

Drink Driving Limits and emphasis on Young / Novice Drivers

Drivers on Irish roads deserve the fullest of praise for bringing our country into the safer category in Europe and even surpassing the German record. As of the 12.12.’12, there were 153 fatalities on our roads which is 22 less than last year. This figure is to be noted particularly because at the half year mark we were one over on the same period, Jan to end Jun, ’11. There’s no cause for celebration, though, as each death brings misery to a family on top of the multitude of injuries inflicted.

The current Christmas enforcement campaign is well underway focusing on drink driving, speeding, non-use of seatbelts and the use of mobile phones; with a little more consideration each one of us can send out the message that Christmas and the New Year will be a happy time and free of the horrendous reality that every fatal crash brings. Meath has had a very bad year so far with around a dozen fatalities, therefore an extra effort must be made to turn that around.

In the year Oct ’11 to Oct ’12, an analysis of drink driving limits was carried out by the Gardai and 9,771 incidents of drink driving were recorded. Some interesting facts were uncovered.

The only age category that increased is that of females between 58 – 67. A significant number of incidents involved male drivers aged between 23 – 32, driving late at night and early morning, particularly at weekends with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than 100mg.

Offenders aged 38 – 47 had the highest proportion of more than 150 mg of BAC, with nearly half of those detected having a BAC in excess of this level.

A new feature of the lower limits is the increase in the number of people detected driving the ‘morning after,’ especially on Sundays around 11 am. I’m aware of a few instances of people getting a taxi home on the week-end night after partaking of their pleasure. Next morning they got a taxi back into town to collect the car and were arrested on the way home – 11am or 12m.d. area. Keep in mind the medical advice is that it takes an hour for each glass (half pint) of beer to dilute in your system no matter what the physical makeup. Some argue that a good meal or a larger proportioned body compensates. Statistics disagree, it appears and the doctor agrees.

‘Specified Drivers’ is a recently created category and those in that bracket should be very much aware where extra restrictions apply to them. They include the following –

*A holder of a learner permit.

*A holder of a first driving licence, two years after issue. This is now the case in Class ‘B’ (cars, vans and other categories) after passing the test, when the ‘N’ plate will be displayed from next year.

*A holder of a SPSV licence whilst driving in the course of business.

*Person not holding a licence for the category of vehicle being driven.

*If a driver is not carrying his/her licence, such person is breath tested at the lower limit (20mg)

In drink driving analysis ’08 to ‘12, recidivist (repeat offender) drink drivers exceeded 10%. There were 5 offenders with 10 or more offences; one driver had 26 driving offences.

Of those drink driving offences committed, 86% were male and 14% female offenders. After Irish offenders, it was Polish, Lithuanian and Latvian who were next listed.

All holders of a learner permit are reminded that under the new Road Traffic Bill, there will be 2 penalty points for not being accompanied by a qualified driver and 2 more for non display of the ‘L’ plate. Points are doubled on opting for a Court hearing, should a conviction follow.

Drive with greater care over the Festive Season. Parents, know where your teenagers are. Don’t leave your car keys available for the puca puca man. Check the battery of your fire alarms; put on your house alarm once you leave the house or retire for the night.

Posted by Louis on January 29, 2013

Buying a Used Car

Eyeing up a used car that is trustworthy is as difficult as selecting the right heifer at a mart or the better filly at Tattersalls. There’s the great fear of purchasing someone else’s problem. While the adage ‘Caveat emptor’ may have been overtaken by legislation that favours the buyer, the buyer still must beware.

Many moons ago a farmer bought a cow at a fair in Mohill and after he had handed over his cash he figured that the cow was blind in one eye. Believing that the problem was all his, he asked the seller if the cow was a quiet one or would she kick the bucket when being milked. The seller assured him she was as quiet as a lamb. To prove it, the purchaser asked him to hand him the money he had paid him underneath the cows elder (or udder.) Not suspecting anything, he handed back the money bragging about how tame this cow was. “That’s fine,” said the buyer, ‘’now you keep your blind cow and I’ll keep my money!” Such encounters were par for the course then and there were big demands on the shrewdness of an individual.

The AA advises not to buy a car at a ‘side of the road’ sale, rather to go to a recognised dealer. Should one buy privately, bring a mechanic along to inspect the car. Mechanics know where to look and what to seek out. Should a seller object to such scrutiny, then it’s time to move on.

Ask the seller if the car has been involved in a crash of any kind. If in doubt, demand a response in writing. Check the car in daylight. As a car purchase may be the biggest or second biggest financial investment many people will make in their lives, it is important to get it right. For every new car purchased in Ireland, there’s 2.5 second-hands sold. For ultimate reassurance, a buyer may have the AA do an autocheck which is a scheme in which dealers undertake to perform a detailed inspection where the second-hand car is examined thoroughly under multiple headings. The AA monitors those dealers with regular spot checks to ensure standards are maintained.

Suggested tips for your inspection –

  • Check the body lines for consistency
  • Check for evidence of repainting, such as overspray on window rubbers or any inconsistency in the paintwork
  • Check for uneven tyre wear
  • Watch for different makes of headlights
  • Look for inconsistencies in stone chips at the front of the bonnet as against the wings
  • Examine the wear of the pedal rubbers, the gear stick and the steering wheel
  • Closely check the odometer for any interference with the mileage
  • Ensure the keys provided operate in all the locks and that there’s a spare set
  • Try all the keys provided in the ignition and start the engine as sometimes a cut key is not a ‘transponder’ key or micro-chipped to work in the ignition.

Check that there is no Hire Purchase owed on the vehicle. This can be done with the Hire Purchase Information Centre at 01-2600905. They will check that no HP or leasing finance is outstanding on the vehicle. Such check will cost you 15 euro. There are also websites that can give you a report on the history of the car, number of owners, mileage, if it was written off, used as a taxi and outstanding finance. Prices vary depending on how much information you want and how old the car is.

Young people need plenty of advice from parents before engaging in this worldly task. It’s an exciting and wonderous purchase that can bring great joy – or tragedy. Ensure the choice is right.

Posted by Louis on July 18, 2012

What’s my Boy up to in the Garage?

The things that young people get up to can be as fascinating as it is exasperating. It’s still great to be young and not telling your mother everything; no need ‘cause she mostly finds out, one way or another.

Some of the older folk, yeah, those past the half century mark, might remember the sponsored fifteen minute programmes on Radio Eireann. One such was Walton’s, at the end of which the broadcaster went, ‘… and if you feel like singing, do sing an Irish song, the songs our fathers loved.’

The Waltons often featured the great tenor, John McCormack singing the lovely folk song, ‘When You and I were Young, Maggie.’

The lyrics of the song were written by a Canadian schoolteacher, George Johnson many moons ago. Margaret ‘Maggie’ Clarke was his pupil. They fell in love and George walked to the Niagra Falls and composed the poem. The tone is melancholy and consolation over lost youth rather than fear of  aging. They were married in 1864 but Maggie’s health failed and she died the following year, while the good man lived on for a further fifty years.

And, yes, youth must have its fling. The fling might incorporate things like wild oats, booze, reefers, or just crazy cars. The experience of what happened in Donegal a few years back shocked the country and beyond, when six or seven people were killed in one horrific crash. Young lads had been playing ‘chicken’ among other games with the lethal weapon that is the motorcar.

A young fellow buys an old car for about 700 euro, most likely. It’s moribund but after a few weeks there’s a complete transformation.

Apart from  an eye-catching respray, there’s much modification with big bore exhausts and stereos; spoilers and bonnet scoops; there’s suspension modifications to lower the occupants height. There’s body kits and neon lights. Tinted windows restrict the view from within and without.

That’s more or less cosmetic. This car has to be seen to go. So, a 1.3 litre engine comes out and is replaced by a 2.0 litre. A new set of alloy wheels and stretch tyres has it ready for off. Green lenses have replaced rear lights and brakes. Impressive. Oh, and the discs on the windscreen are not a priority as this machine is not for the High Street, particularly. It just might be insured. Well, only at shady times of the day will it venture off course. Up to 2,000.00 euro may have been spent on the beast at this stage. The horse is now a cheetah.

There are exciting ‘track’ days ahead. Off to the meeting place. There’s another three or four contenders waiting. The rap, rap from the speakers set the tone. Doughnuts for a start. Round and round she goes in 2nd gear, pedal to the floor, handbrake three quarters applied, wheels spinning, smoke rising, breathing rubber. One at a time they line out for their parish, each trying to outperform the other. To achieve this, a passenger half climbs out the window, feet hanging inside and holds on heroically in the cauldron of this dustbowl.

If there’s a tread left, a road race starts. These are narrow, rural backwaters, though in use by the public. Two cars abreast at full throttle. Someone ends up in a drain. There’s great fun getting towed out the next day. There’s a rush of adrenalin even recalling their exploits.  Inevitably, sometimes there’s serious injury, even fatalities.

Education is key to eradicating such behaviour. It has worked well in the far North West. Inculcate the right attitude in the classroom and there’s a high probability that temptation will be resisted.

Not every young lad or lass hankers with such escapades; nor do all who spruce – up their car as stated. There’s the car ‘enthusiast’ who just likes to show off his wares in a more civil manner, cruising around slowly, except for the ear-bursting noise of the twin exhausts at take-off time from traffic lights. He’s just more irritating than dangerous and can attract a pretty lady in the process.

Changing the make-up of a car in any substantial way alters that car to the extent that insurance cover is negatived. Bad enough being caught by the law for the infringement, but it’s in the event of a crash that the enhancement of a suspension or ‘upgrading’ of the engine may result in, literally, not having the vehicle insured. Insurance companies insist that any material alteration must be reported to them. That will certainly mean a further premium or even cancellation.

A NCT test will also result in failure.

Mammy, when the young fella spends too many winter nights in the garage he may not be simply repairing your boiler, rather he might be creating a monster for the family.

Posted by Louis on January 31, 2012

Car breakdown and the use of jump leads

Flat batteries account for about 30% of all breakdowns according to the Automobile Association. In the main those batteries are old and in need of replacement. Internal lighting or sidelights left on for long periods will also run down the battery. I know of one gentleman who parked up his Mercedes for a month in the winter of 2010, while he holidayed Down Under. While he was having Christmas dinner on Bondi Beach, his Merc was struggling silently with -17.5 degrees of frost here. The seizure the car suffered, adequately matched that of its owner on his return. It cost him the price of another holiday or, maybe one could say that it was then his car’s turn to go Down Under!

In the distant past, there was no problem using jump leads for any car that stalled. That has all changed. Consult the car handbook and if specific procedures are to be followed, then the manufacturer’s guidelines must be taken into account. The AA advises that jumpstarting a vehicle is a safe procedure but that it can be dangerous if performed incorrectly and a step by step guide is suggested here –

  • Drivers should keep metal objects away from the top of the car battery – rings, watch straps, hand tools etc. just brushing a battery post can cause a massive spark, possibly exploding the car’s battery and releasing the acid.
  • Drivers should never attempt to jump-start a car battery that is leaking or looks damaged – an explosion could result.
  • Drivers should avoid smoking or naked flames – car batteries give off flammable gases and an explosion could result.
  • Drivers should keep their hands well away and avoid loose fitting clothing – with the vehicle’s engine running it’s easy to get caught-up and seriously injured on moving parts.
  • Jump leads must be in good condition – damaged conductors or clamps can result in overheating and even fire.

Step by step

Before connecting leads to your car make sure the vehicles are the same voltage and parked with their handbrakes on and ignition off. The vehicles must not touch as this can cause sparks or an explosion.

  1. Use the red jump lead to connect the positive terminal of the donor vehicle’s good battery to the positive terminal of the flat battery.
  2. Then use the black lead to connect the negative terminal of the good car battery to a suitable earthing point on the engine or chassis of the other vehicle. This earthing point must be away from the battery and vehicle’s fuel system.
  3. With both leads connected wait three minutes for the voltages to equalize before starting either car’s engine.
  4. Start the engine of the donor car and allow it to run for a minute, then while still running, start the engine of the other car and leave both running at a fast idle for ten minutes. Don’t remove the jump leads while the cars’ engines are running as this can cause serious damage to the electronics on either car.
    If the jump leads get hot, avoid a possible fire by switching off both vehicles’ engines and allow the leads to cool.
  5. Turn off the ignition on both cars and then disconnect the leads carefully in the reverse order to the way they were connected to the cars. Be careful not to touch the clips against each other or the car bodywork.
  6. Start the car that had the dead battery using its own battery power. If it won’t start there could be a more serious problem that’ll need investigating by a professional.

 If all that advice doesn’t get you on the road, stick with the High Nellie.