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 ‘Learning to Drive’ Category

Posted by Louis on December 31, 2015

The Novice Plate and Attitudes

The N-Plate is displayed by ‘novice’ drivers after passing the driving test. It’s similar to the L-plate which was displayed while learning to drive. If the six months or a year or more in the harness of the L-plate appeared as long as the trimmings of the rosary in the past, then the introduction of the N-plate smote more than a few, especially those who have left age 30 or more behind.
The N-plate must be displayed for 2 years after passing the test.
Non-display of N – plates is an offence under road traffic law and is punishable by a fine of up to €1,000 for a first offence. On becoming a fixed charge, the failure to display an N-plate will carry 2 penalty points, or 4 on conviction in court.
Drivers subject to displaying the N-plate has a lower threshold of 7 penalty points leading to disqualification. So, don’t incur penalty points, especially during those 2 years.
Novice drivers do not require to be accompanied by a qualified driver, like those subject to the L-plate. But note – a Novice driver does not qualify as an ‘accompanying’ driver.
Of course the purpose of those two plates is to highlight to other drivers that the learner/novice is in a special category and should be treated with the respect that they deserve. There I come to another point – a gentleman who did his driving lessons with me this year and duly passed his test (Class B) kept in touch and went to the trouble of sending an e-mail showing how other drivers regard N-plate holders. His email is as follows –

Hello Louis; hope you and family are well. I see you occasionally with a student driving through the streets of Trim and I recall our days working towards the driving test. Now that I have been a Novice for a few months I have a few observations you might find interesting.
The red “N” tag gets no respect from other drivers. I have lost count of the occasions when I have been motoring along at the posted speed on the Navan road or even driving through town when I have been passed by another motorist as though I was standing still. It is as though the “N” designation has become the new “L” driver status, as if to say Novice drivers don’ know what they are doing.
I have noticed a lot more “N” tags in recent days and I want to tell you, they are the best drivers on the road – with very few exceptions. I can see the rules of the road being applied and techniques that we discussed being implemented on a regular basis by Novices. Maybe after a few years some of the good practices will wear off onto some of the scofflaws on Irish roads.
There are more scofflaws than ever on the road, passing on curves, even with double solid lines in the center. Speeding is the biggest violation I see. The default speed limit for these characters is none, but they do settle out at about 100 km/h on the Navan Road and as much as 120 on the N2 and N3. Don’t these clowns ever get ticketed by the Gardai? For them, hatched areas on the road are invisible, creating a privileged passing zone just for them. Mind you, the rest of us are dutifully steaming along at 80 km/h and staying in our lanes.
Novice drivers do very well in roundabouts for the most part. They enter at the correct point, signal appropriately and exit where they should. I find that when I enter where I’m supposed to at the Dublin Road roundabout here, I am halfway through the turn and signalling to turn down to Longwood when the car behind me has pulled almost alongside, ready to pass me on his way to the Longwood Road. If I get halfway through the roundabout without turning left onto the Dublin Road, what do these drivers think I’m going to do?
And the last word on roundabouts is one of my old pet peeves; drivers entering almost any roundabout are entering too fast. I have seen several near-misses when these guys come into the roundabout so fast they nearly rear-end a car that is already in the turn before they get there. One day people are going to be killed. Will it make a difference?
This is a cry from the heart to those drivers who disregard the special position that Learner and Novice drivers should hold on public roads. As Ger says above, when some drivers see the L or N displayed they see red, probably. Why? They know the L&N driver keeps the speed limits, signals correctly and takes up correct positioning, especially approaching and on roundabouts – unlike the so called ‘fully qualified’ drivers. Folks, that is the real reason we had 190 coffins after road collisions last year and some are trying hard to catch up with that figure this year. Overtaking is reckless in too many instances. It’s the L&N drivers who are doing it correctly and being insulted, even taunted by those with a bad attitude.
There’s a cure for such behaviour. There should be a refresher course of at least five lessons for anyone who infringes like the above. Unfortunately they’re rarely caught until the crash happens. Then the innocent suffer as much or more than the perpetrator. And that will go on and on. Too bad. Don’t quit.
Ger’s reference to ‘scofflaw’ is not a word used much in these lands – it means one who holds the law in disregard; to ‘scuff’ the law was coined during prohibition in the US.

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.

Posted by Louis on February 12, 2014


At the fingertips of practically every young person is a hoard of information on how to go about taking the various steps to acquiring a full driving licence. The ‘Website,’ in a word. In that line up of information, you will be taken along the road of landmarks to the desired conclusion – all at the click of a mouse.  Nearly every house possesses a PC (personal computer), or alternatively go to your library where access should be available.

The various steps to your Driving Test: website address is < >

The Theory Test –

This  test is designed to check knowledge of topics such as:

  • Rules of the Road
  • Risk perception
  • Eco-driving
  • Hazard awareness
  • Good driving behaviour

The test is computer-based but, like the fast check-in kiosks at airports, is designed for those who have little or no experience of using computers as well as those who do.

You will have a chance to take a practice session on the day before starting on the actual test. If you have special needs please contact the Driver Theory Service and explain your requirements.

Driver Theory Service contact:
1890 606 106 (English language)
1890 606 806 (Irish language)                     The fee is 45 euro.

Book on line at > <

Learner Permit –

If you are applying for your first learner permit you must:

  • Include a theory test certificate for the relevant category along with your learner-permit application, unless the certificate has already been submitted .
  • Present the certificate within two years of the date of issue (date of passing the test).

From the 4th April 2011 all new first time learner permit holders for cars will be required to undertake mandatory essential driver training (EDT)   with an approved driving instructor (ADI). The course is made up of 12 individual one hour lessons. The learner will be able to take the lessons at any point during the learning process and can practice with an accompanying driver during the time while taking lessons. Evidence of completing the lessons will be signed off in a learner’s logbook by the Approved Driving Instructor.

In addition, a number of penal offences have been introduced for learner drivers. These include driving unaccompanied, not displaying ‘L’ plates when driving, and the carrying of a passenger by a learner motorcyclist.

To minimise any potential delays, we strongly recommend that you carefully review the list of documents required when applying for a learner permit or full licence before you attend one of the NDLS centres as not having the correct original documents could mean your application can’t be processed. The list of acceptable documents is available on the RSA website

Posted by Louis on October 23, 2012

Learner Driver will Graduate to ‘N’ Driver

The Road Transport Department and the Road Safety Authority are seeing the results of too much freedom allowed to younger drivers before and after passing their test. If in the category of 17 to 25 years old and male, you’re an endangered species on Irish roads. But hold, there’s help on the way in the form of an ‘N’ plate which will render instant assistance to the statistical data, maybe. Those who pass their test will wear this badge for a further two years – from next year.
Two years ago, Cardiff University researchers recommended that newly qualified drivers should be banned from night-time driving and carrying passengers of a similar age; it would save more than 200 young lives per year and prevent 1,700 serious injuries. The figures were compiled after analysing road accident data from 2000 to 2007. Such limiting schemes operated in New Zealand, Australia and parts of the US.
Instantly, motoring organisations fired their arrows into the works: it would be very difficult to enforce and, should young drivers find themselves free to transgress the new laws, then it was figured they’d exploit further. What about this category driver who had a night job or college attendance at night? They also argued that education was the key. Alternative ideas proposed was to take the subject to the classroom rather than setting Big Brother on this group. Tell them also about the importance of controlling the use of iPods and MP3 players, was suggested. The Cardiff recommendations didn’t come into being. What have other countries done?
Western Australia – under 19s must have a zero alcohol level at all times. Night-time ban imposed for first six months.
New South Wales – New drivers display ‘P’ plates for 2 years, observe extra speed limits and have zero alcohol level.
California – Night time driving ban and carry no passenger under 20.
One must remember that there’s no Provisional Licence or Learner Permit in those States.
A distraught father in England whose 16 year old daughter was killed with three of her friends in a crash a few years ago when the driver was 18 and after passing his test, said that the test should be abolished altogether, that those children were being taught to drive simply to pass the test! He added that a learner should have a log book like an aircraft pilot where hundreds of hours would be spent in the learning process with an experienced driver. He rightly said that such driving should take place at night, in frost, snow, rain, on motorways – all under instruction. When the heart is low, it can speak loudest.
The newly proposed ‘N’–plate here will be displayed on vehicles in Class B, cars and vans, for two years after passing the test. Under this Traffic Bill, the Learner Driver who incurs six penalty points, as against the current threshold of twelve points, will lose their Licence. It’s a means of rewarding good road behaviour. Since this announcement last week, there were six people killed on our roads.
There is good reason to restrict those who have just passed their test –
• 1 in 3 male drivers aged between 17 and 20 crash in the first two years after passing their test.
• An 18 year old driver is more than three times as likely to be involved in a crash as a 48 year old driver.
• 1 in 5 drivers crash within their first year of driving.
The wags are at work, too, seeing the ‘N-plate’ becoming a ‘Z-car’ with one twist. Others recommend a D-plate for the Dunce who fails to pass etc. Such comics may one day graduate, too.

Posted by Louis on May 28, 2012

Pressure Coming on Unaccompanied Learner Drivers

By law, a learner driver must be accompanied by a fully qualified driver of at least two years standing and must also display an ‘L’ plate front and rear.

In a recent Garda survey throughout the country, it was discovered that compliance was not far short of 50%. Some 2,200 drivers were checked and 946 (43%) were unaccompanied by a full licence holder and 660 (c. 30%) did not display ‘L’ plates. Many offended in both categories. With summer upon us, the Gardai have made it known that there will be higher vigilance in the areas of speeding, drink and drug driving, non use of seat belts and the chestnut cracker of a mobile phone to the ear.

Yet, the law is not heavy-handed with young people and most will suffer a Caution if certain conditions apply.

Every young person setting out on  their driving mission should be taken to a morgue and made view the body of a crash victim – young, innocent, loving, invincible, with his family members standing there, numb.

Then, they should have on their driving syllabus the contents of a family impact statement like that of Margaret Sheehan which was read out at Cork Circuit Court recently. The judge said that it should be compulsory reading for all drivers. It read, in part –

‘There are places and moments in time that we all for one reason or another will never forget. Standing in the morgue in Cork City that morning the situation became a reality. The words and whispers that had been following us around for the previous few hours were now real. Our beautiful son  … was gone from us. Lying still, cold and lifeless in front of us, covered in a single white sheet – he lay silent in a world completely at odds with that in which his family stood.’

And there’s much more words of free-flowing expression from that mother’s grieving heart.

Nobody wants to be reminded, especially those who live the loss, and they are many. I am not saying that young drivers are responsible for all the worst situations out there. No, but we can’t get away from the cold fact that the record shows, that of all fatal crashes in any recent year, up to one third involved a driver between 17 and 25 years.

Learning to drive comes easy to most young people. With tuition, almost all become competent. As I emphasise to those who have progressed in the short few months, it then takes a few years to acquire the wisdom of the road. Apprenticeship is defined as a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a structured competency-based set of skills. Whether it be a bricklayer, a thatcher or a solicitor, each must go through the learning process for which there is no quick fix. Hence, a period of apprenticeship.

It’s the same for the learner driver who must be patient and, as a sage from Cavan once advised, ‘Progress slowly.’ Noel Brett and Traffic Commissioner O’Mahoney continually harp on that those recently invoked laws are there to provide a high standard of training for the novice and to protect them from the lurking harm that’s out there. Other drivers are immediately made aware, by means of the display of an ‘L’ plate, that such driver is in the learning process and may need extra space and a little protection from the hum and hassle that is a busy thoroughfare. Yes, there are those who may show little respect for a Learner Driver, perhaps that’s part of learning the trade: the world and her mother can’t go half fast enough for certain people.

Parents should advise their child of the intricacies of car insurance. Read the terms over carefully and, maybe, consult your broker. For, it should be noted that where a learner driver who is not complying with the terms of such licence and is involved in an accident, that driver is covered for third party liability, but their insurance provider may not cover any other costs and may seek to recover costs relative to the non compliance.

Overall, road deaths are down on last year which is great news. April, though, saw an increase of ten deaths on 2011. If you are a young driver, don’t invite your mother to compile a victim impact statement. It will kill her.