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 ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Posted by Louis on June 30, 2015

Back Roads and a Barn Dance

It’s holiday time and the schoolchildren are wearing their summer smiles of freedom as they look forward with giddy anticipation to eight weeks of lazing, sunshine and holidays. For the working parents, it can be a double edged sword. There’s minders and babysitters to be employed in many cases and grannies being called out of retirement. We want all those children back in school and colleges , come September still smiling. With all the grief that we see like that of the J1 students in California to the cruel fate of those in Tunisia of late, we need a little luck to survive the summer months.

The RSA are highlighting instances of accidents occurring as a result of drivers, especially mothers, turning around in their cars while driving, to correct or chastise children in the back seat, thus taking their own eyes off the road for more seconds than is safe. In a survey by a university in the US, it was found that children are 12 times a greater distraction to a driver than is using a mobile phone. In a 16 minute car journey with children, the drivers eyes were off the road for an average of 3 ½ minutes. So, don’t look back is the theme. A glance is all there’s time for. A small row in the back seat shouldn’t spill over into the next townland before the driver has time to pull in and referee the bout.

From Christian Doctrine days, remember the story of the two angels visiting Lot and his family in Sodom (Israel) and they stayed had a sleepover. At dawn, the angels told Lot to flee with his family to avoid the imminent disaster that was about to strike the city. “Flee for your lives and do not look behind you,” they told him. As the family exited the city, Lot’s wife’s curiosity got the better of her so she looked back at Sodom and was turned into a pillar of salt. Her salt statue still stands in Sodom city.  Drivers, be warned, expect children to create a stink in the back seat. It’s not the worst thing that can happen on a journey.

It maybe a case of ‘The old dog for the hard road and the pup for the Boreen’ but some of our boreens or back roads do us no favours. For it’s on those R242s also known as Regional Roads that danger lurks. It isn’t on the motorways and primary roads that most fatal crashes happen: no, it’s on the lesser roads. Such roads are too often poorly maintained, narrow, windy, potholed and unlit. To give credit where credit is due, the Fine Gael/Labour duet has done a good job on resurfacing many such roads. But, there are a few ‘howlers’ left, like the link from Peterstown ( Navan Road to Marcie’s (Newtown) Bridge.) How in the name of Moses, after spending a fortune of millions on the Trim-Dublin and Trim-Navan roads in the Noughties, could a section  like that passing Mary Donnelly’s cottage be left in its 1960s state. It would have been the loose change of the overall cost to complete the job and give locals who like shortcuts a little bonus.

This is a short link road, one that bears heavy traffic and the malaise continues over the bridge to the Dublin Road. When a costing is being prepared for main roads, how come such short but important sections are ignored? Incidentally, if I see correctly, there’s resurfacing afoot on the piece from the same bridge to the Dublin Road. Great if it is, and not that much about a General Election -yet.

Every local driver is too well aware of the mile of road from Balreask to Beechmount (approaching Navan from the Trim side.) There must be over a hundred manholes ‘astutely’ positioned in the left lane making them impossible to avoid. Some are drooping several inches below the level of the road surface. I’m reliably informed that many motorists’ aluminium wheels get cracked in those dipped manholes. Just inside those rows of manholes is a line of water grates. Then there’s the inevitable dipped tracks of pipe laying. It seems that the Co. Co. don’t inspect such dips in the road unless the public complain. Who’s in charge? In Gay Byrne’s heyday, he maintained that when the Council completed all the road markings – white lines, yellow lines etc., it was a sure sign that the road was about to get a new coat of tar. And Gay was no dozer.

With July upon us and talking about rural roads reminds me of the one in Inniskeen, which carried traffic of a different, if more light-hearted kind. One stanza may help smooth any such poor surfaces –


The bicycles go by in twos and threes –

There’s a dance in Billy Brennan’s barn tonight,

And there’s the half-talk code of mysteries

And the wink-and-elbow language of delight.

Half-past eight and there is not a spot

Upon a mile of road, no shadow thrown

That might turn out a man or woman, not

A footfall tapping secrecies of stone.


Kavanagh may have felt isolated on those Monaghan country roads, but surely the barn dance made good his loneliness!

Posted by Louis on July 5, 2013

Government publishes Road Traffic Bill 2013

Bill will legislate for roadside drug impairment tests, ‘Novice’ driver licences, higher penalty points, testing of unconscious drivers

Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has published the Road Traffic Bill 2013 following its sign-off by Cabinet.

The measures in the Bill will enhance safety on Irish roads by legislating for roadside impairment tests for drug driving, higher penalty points for speeding, mobile phone use and not wearing seatbelts, and will allow unconscious drivers to be tested.

The Minister appealed to motorists to renew efforts to drive safely following an increase in road fatalities so far this year.

“Last year saw the lowest number of deaths ever recorded on Irish roads, but the rise in fatalities so far this year is deeply worrying. The measures in this Bill will have a significant effect on road safety by targeting key areas. We will strengthen the penalty points system, legislate for roadside impairment testing for drug driving, and reinforce the driver learning process,” Minister Varadkar said.

“My intention is to introduce this Bill in the Oireachtas as quickly as possible. I am concerned that the number of road fatalities for the first half of this year has exceeded that of the past two years. Every road user has a responsibility to behave safely, whether you are a driver, motorcyclist, cyclist or pedestrian. I appeal to everyone to take extra care, and ask motorists in particular to slow down.”

The Bill was drafted following consultation with the Oireachtas Transport Committee, in particular the changes to the penalty points system.

As of today, 91 people have lost their lives on our roads in 2013, compared with 89 at the same time in 2012 and 88 in 2011.


Details of the Bill

  • Further measures in the Graduated Driver Licence System by:


    • Introducing the concept of ‘Novice’ for the first two years of a first licence. Novices will be required to display an ‘N’ plate;
    • Setting the disqualifying level for novice and learner drivers at six penalty points, half the level for other drivers;
    • Requiring learner drivers to produce a log book indicating that they have undertaken a minimum (to be specified in Regulations) of accompanied driving experience before taking a driving test. This is in addition to the 12 formal lessons with approved driving instructors already required.


  • Taking a blood specimen in hospital from a driver incapacitated following a road traffic collision. The permission of the treating doctor will be required before the specimen can be taken and the results of the analysis will be revealed only when the driver can, subsequently, give permission.


  • Roadside impairment testing, where Gardaí can carry out cognitive tests to establish if a driver is under the influence of an intoxicant. The result of the test can be used if a prosecution proceeds.


  • The Bill will also adjust the level of penalty points for some offences. There will be increases for offences such as:
    • Speeding will now attract 3 points on payment of fixed charge and 5 on conviction (previously 2 and 4);
    • Mobile phone use will now attract 3 points on payment of fixed charge and 5 on conviction (previously 2 and 4);
    • Non-wearing of seatbelts will now attract 3 points on payment of fixed charge and 5 on conviction (previously 2 and 4);
    • Other offences such as non-display of an NCT certificate, which at present involve a Court appearance, will attract 2 points on payment of fixed charge.


This Bill doesn’t just affect learner drivers. It can be seen that roadside impairment tests concern all drivers as does the taking of a blood specimen from an injured person in hospital following a traffic collision. The one good result that will emerge from this is the further effort at reducing deaths on our roads. Stay safe.

Posted by Louis on March 28, 2012


Close to Tralee is the rural parish of Abbeydorney where one Michael Buckley was born over ninety  years ago. In time, he took over the family farm and married Breda. Land was in the blood for generations and Michael knew the ins and outs of the scene from a young age.

In his spare time, Michael pursued the game of the smaller ball in his younger days, hurling for the Kilflynn Club and, in 1957, landed a North Kerry Senior Championship and added another later on.

The children began to arrive and, to any unassuming Abbeydorney or Knocknagoshel man, the Buckleys were a chip of the old block, set in their ways as tradition would have it. Not exactly, mind you, as there was a latent streak of the Tom Creans lurching in this Mike fellow.

He had observed the  hardships endured by farmers engaged in bringing cattle to fairs at crossroads and market squares and the thousand year old method of buying and selling, or, maybe, not selling at all on the day. Michael was a founder member of Tralee Mart, Cork Marts and FBD Insurance for the farming community.

He looked at his own farm, probably with the same jaundiced eye as Kavanagh when he penned the lines, ‘… They said

That I was bounded by the whitethorn hedges

Of the little farm and did not know the world …’

Soon he was talking to the local Land Commission officer with a view to moving to greener pastures, though now in his early 40’s. Mick and Breda found themselves viewing farms in Straffan, Beaupark,  and Trim. Being forward-thinking people, it was easy settling for the Navan Road, Trim, for its proximity to the town and a good choice of schools.

When Mick told his neighbours of his plans they told him he was mad; he was moving kit and kin. The decision was made and there was no time for tears before, during or after the big move. It was grist to the mill. Cattle, a farm horse and all the farm implements were transported from Kerry in lorries. Michael, accompanied by Breda and their three small children, drove their new Ford Anglia car – Reg. No. FIN-756 and priced at £350.00 – all the way to Trim, a distance of nearly 200 miles. They arrived on the evening of the 26th of March, 1965, almost fifty years ago. It was in its own right, somehow, comparable to the brave men and women who, in the 1840s onwards, took the Oregon and California Trails West, except that the Buckleys didn’t raft down the Boyne on their run-in to their newest conquest. For this family, it was a monstrous undertaking, a once in a lifetime move that was near irreversible.

At that time, other families from the kingdom also arrived, like the Gouldings, Brosnans and Foleys; they attracted the attention of Telefis Eireann whose News crew interviewed them about their great venture North. Word has it that Buckley was, there and then, offered a job in the RTE Newsroom.

But, it was no soft  landing for those trekkers. While they had a new house to move in to, there was no electricity for Breda for some months to come. Mick embarked on building outhouses and sheds and there were new farming systems to be learned. For, it should be known that Kerry has a climate that’s more akin to the Mediterranean than that of these parts. Well, slightly, they say they are a month ahead of the North-East with their crops and in their first year here a late April frost was a setback to Mick’s early plantings.

In their first years in Trim, Breda’s uncles and cousins arrived from Kerry to assist with the crops and out-buildings, staying a few weeks at a time in the process. Between their ‘foreign’ accents and demands for pints of Single X porter, Marcie Regan is reported to have been at a rare disadvantage.

If neighbourliness was as regular as tea making in Kerry, so the new arrivals found it likewise in their new found land where the likes of Dick Fitzsimons, Paddy Browne and Major Thompson were always on hand to give advice and good counsel.

Trim was a small town in the mid 60’s, but Buckley was soon expanding. He rented land near Navangate and, it was a common sight to see cattle being walked the short mile in and out the Navan Road to this land. Incidentally, Griffin Park was later built on that pasture.

It was common then to have cattle tended in the heart of a town and it isn’t so long since James Brogan and his late father, Michael, were milking cows in the yard of Brogan’s Hotel; Jim Taafe did likewise on Haggard St. And, it seems only like yesterday that Betty McEvoy walked her cattle out the Dublin Road, with bales of hay stacked on her bicycle, to her farm at Maudlins. All a pretty sight.

Buckleys new house was the only one on the Navan Road between Davis’ and  Phil McArdle’s. Whether in the name of progress, all that has changed meanwhile.

Michael and Breda took their skills to Trim golf course at an early stage and his good self didn’t sacrifice all his small ball skills to Kilflynn for, in 1975, he almost stole the show on Captain’s Day when he came in second. Breda revealed a little secret about a record that Michael holds in the Kingdom, or maybe, on this little planet. They were back down there on holidays, playing golf. Mick hit a notorious drive off the 18th tee. His ball went out of sight in the direction of the car park where Breda was gearing up for home: it landed in the boot of the Anglia and wasn’t recovered until they arrived in Trim – which has to be the longest drive not on record!

Michael loved Wednesdays and Dad’s Army outings at Newtownmoynagh in his latter playing days close to his 90th birthday. While his fleety foot may have deserted him, his astute brain retains all the alacrity of a young fellow.

Breda drives the family car as ever while Michael quit five years ago. As I teach young people, like their grandson, David, to drive, I exhort them to adopt all the good habits at an early stage as they will stand them in good stead for 70 or even 80 years duration. They might chuckle at such a thought, but, isn’t the old master from Abbeydorney living proof. And, don’t wager too much on not seeing him make his way towards Newtownmoynagh in a grey Anglia some sunny Wednesday morn.

He says his Autumn years have fallen fast upon him recently and he misses the work in the fields and just pottering about the house. He knows, too, his many blessings in his children and grandchildren and, most of all, the brightest ray of sunshine through his good wife.

Michael took the Ralph Emerson way in life –

‘Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.’

Posted by Louis on February 14, 2011

E Mark Tyres

Have you noticed the E-mark on your tyres? Hopefully you did!
The ‘E’ mark or ‘e’ is followed by a number and included in a circle or rectangle. The number denotes the particular country which granted the approval. The number outside the circle or rectangle is the number of the type approval certificate issued for the tyre size and type.

Apart from tyres, other replacement component parts, which must be e-marked, include exhaust silencers, catalytic converters and brake pads.
It is a requirement throughout the EU that motor vehicles have e-marked tyres and this applies to both new and retreaded tyres. An e-mark confirms that a tyre meets the minimum EU or International standard in relation to its dimensions, load and speed rating.

According to the Road Safety Authority, tyres that are not e-marked will not meet the required minimum EU standard. Their performance is likely to be substandard and given the uncertainty over the quality of manufacture, could be at risk of sudden or serious deterioration, endangering the vehicle occupants and other road users. A tyre with tread or ply separation could be at risk of a blow-out or sudden tyre deflation causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle.

Since the 1st of April, 2010, the NCT has included a check to ensure that car tyres are e-marked. Such checks also apply to HGV tyres currently. While there is an obvious onus on the owner of vehicles to check for the e-mark when purchasing tyres, the garage owner or fitter will point out the mark and, if they cannot, such tyres may be substandard, and should not be purchased. Should a purchaser encounter a problem with a supplier, the National Consumer Agency will provide advice.
There are actually ten different type of markings on a tyre which may seem somewhat excessive, but, each serves a purpose; marks like ‘R,’ ‘V,’ ‘205,’ ‘E4,’ etc. all serve to provide a better standard.

Tyre thread is the only contact a motorist has with the road surface.
1 in 8 cars on our roads have a tread that is less than the required 1.6mm in depth.
Such risky vehicles take longer to stop, they cost more in fuel consumption and have greater CO2 emissions. If unsure of your tread depth, have it checked at a garage, or, purchase a depth guage at any motor accessory shop.

Check your tyres for cuts and bulges. With the horrendous condition of link roads at present, it is very difficult to avoid hitting a deep pothole. Actually, on some sections of road, if the potholes were levelled out a little, the road surface would be smooth. Well, it wouldn’t be a great surface, then, but it mightn’t burst a tyre as quickly. I’ve been waiting for a prospective politician to call to my door so I might point out the horror holes on the Newtown road, but, alas, no such Luminaries have got this far, yet.

Posted by Louis on November 23, 2010

Be a Safer Pedestrian and Cyclist

Statistics aren’t the first choice of the reader: they have been alluded to as hated by many, wanted by plenty, disliked by some and confronted by none! That’s not to mention Disraeli’s alleged attribute to the subject as ‘Lies, damned lies and statistics.’ However much people disparage statistics that don’t support their argument, at the end of the day, they stand cold and we must live with them.
In 2008, 49 pedestrians were killed and 1,124 injured on our roads representing 18% of the total fatalities. With the darker evenings approaching, pedestrians and cyclists are all the more vulnerable to accident. With a little more thought, a lot of danger can be reduced or eliminated. Some simple measures as those following can see you out and take you home safely.

  • Wear bright clothing at night, or, a high visibility vest and armband.
  • On country roads, carry a torch.
  • Use footpaths, if provided.
  • Don’t cross a road at a bend.
  • Walk two abreast, or, preferably, single file.
  • Don’t cross the road between parked cars.
  • Look and listen.

Pedestrians who are inebriated present a serious risk. They’re oblivious to danger and should get a taxi or friend to get them home. Publicans have a responsibility to those leaving their premises while under the weather and should give them every assistance possible to ensure their safety. Pity the poor ould publican doing taxi till 3.00am.

It’s my opinion that the bus Stop on the new Athboy Bypass (near Lidl) creates a serious risk to people boarding or alighting from the bus. Firstly, the Stop is on a bend which has limited forward visibility and there’s a continuous centre white line on the road there. Then with a shelter on one side and a stopping bay opposite, users find themselves crossing the road there at an undesirable location. This road carries a heavy volume of traffic.

Cyclists, too, are a vulnerable species of traveller. They also suffer their unfair share of fatalities and serious injury. Schoolchildren returning home once the clocks go back must be very wary and have their bicycles properly lighted. Wear a helmet and visibility vest. Have the bicycle ‘serviced’ – just like a car owner does. Maybe a NCT- type inspection  for bicycles wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
Don’t cycle on footpaths and use cycle lanes where provided. Comply with pedestrian crossings and traffic lights.Keep well clear of left turning lorries, the driver may not see you.
Don’t weave in and out through traffic; keep both hands on the handlebars.
Enjoy the bike for as long as possible, it’s cheap to run, faster around town and there’s no road tax or insurance compulsorily on it, YET.
In the 1960s a rural dweller named Rogan was prosecuted at Mohill District Court for walking on the left side of the road. The law changed about that time and  pedestrians had to walk on the right. The Garda said he had warned Rogan of the change in the law but he had ignored it. The Judge asked him if he wished to say anything. Rogan replied, ‘Crimeney, your worship, I’d prefer be killed on the side of the road that I know best!’ He was fined a shilling and lived to a ripe old age,  refusing, meanwhile, to walk ‘right.’ Let today’s walkers be more enlightened.