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 ‘Road Safety’ Category

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 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.

Posted by Louis on July 31, 2015

Cyclists to Pay the Penalty

When Minister Pascal O’Donoghue introduced legislation recently that finally catches up with wayward cyclists, I think he falls short in one area – that of compulsory insurance. A cyclist has many and varied legal responsibilities once the biker enters a public road. But the rider has no tuition, no health and safety training, no licence of any sort, no ‘nct’ and, of course, no insurance. Yet, from the time children have graduated from the nappy stage, they’re on little scooters, trikes and anything that gets them mobile whether on footpaths or accompanying daddy to the shop.
Before taking a bicycle out in public, it must be road-worthy, be fitted with brakes, a rear reflector and a bell during the daytime and, of course, a front and rear light at night. No more than driving a car, a cyclist must be ‘fit’ to ride the bike.
Better cycling should begin in low infants with a proper course delivered by a professional tutor. That should infuse a good attitude in the child and it stays the pace for life.
Recently, I met a cyclist pedalling out of Loman St., contra flow-style, into Mill St. and didn’t even bother to yield. Such pedaller should realise that last year 13 cyclists died on our roads. She wasn’t near the infant age, for she was 40 plus. There’s no need for fresh legislation to teach that lady a lesson. It’s there since the Road Traffic Acts of 1961, dangerous driving of a pedal cycle!
With cycling numbers increasing by thousands year on year, a new attitude is called for. Whether Pascal Donoghue has the answer remains with the jury. Some 36 offences have entered the books, seven of which are fixed charge notices with a price tag of 40 euro a shot, on the spot fine.
In some of his hurling commentaries, Micheal O Muirecheartaigh expressed great surprise at a Rabbitte chasing a Fox (Tipp v Galway) and I am prepared to get excited should I see dust rising at the sight of Gardai chasing a hapless cyclist whose least concern would be his braking power. The cyclist hasn’t to carry any identification and in urban areas these new laws could be harder to enforce than collecting water charges. Will the Garda be on a bike or in a patrolcar? The likes of Brendan Grace’s ‘Bottler’ would have a ball around Gardiner Street creating a chase and winning.
The new fixed notices are:
Riding without reasonable consideration, No proper lighting, Riding in a pedestrian street, Breaking traffic lights, Not stopping for a school warden and, Not stopping behind a Stop Line.

Cycle lanes are being laid or created by most urban Councils over the last few years. Trim has its fair share and the Navan Road area is a treat to even look at. Navan town has some that just run out of space before a chance of second breath, for instance the one opposite Pairc Tailteann isn’t much longer than a tandem but it creates an opportunity for cyclists to line up in front of motorists at traffic lights.
So why the necessity for new legislation? Well, cyclists have not been keeping any regulations, pushing forward at red lights and flitting through at half a chance. They ride on footpaths, overtake dangerously on the left, the odd one scrapes a pedal along the side of cars and just keep going despite such reckless damage. Many think there is no onus on them to yield at a pedestrian crossing, oft times weaving through children and older folk alike. The RSA advertisement showing correct positioning for a right turn is noteworthy, despite the wry smile of the lady rider for the camera.
Any cyclist can cause a lot of damage to a car whether by colliding with it or, as said, scraping the paintwork with a pedal. Such damage could amount to many hundred Euro, even a thousand. So why not have insurance? I believe that at least third party insurance should be compulsory; Pascal, you are not finished!
The Dutch are tops for pedalling, with almost as many bikes as people – well c.16.5 million. Nordic countries have a very high proportion too while China has 500m bikers. Ireland is catching on to the health aspects of the two wheeler as well as making it a work vehicle: between ’06 and ’11 biker numbers increased by about 10%. Hopefully sales can outpace automobiles as there are actually twice as many cyclists in the world than car drivers!

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?