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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Turbo-Turnabout . The Newsletter Issue 2.

The Newsletter of Astral Driving School Ireland.

Volume One Issue No.2 w/c 24th October 2005


Table of contents
1. Introduction.
2. About Astral.
3. Breaking News.
4. Guest Article.
5. Feature Article.
6. Tip of the Week.
7. Driving Test Tips.
8. Recommended Resources.
9. Catwalk.


Turbo-Turnabout is a weekly Publication by the Astral Driving School to assist and inform all Drivers but particularly those starting off and those preparing for the Driving Test. We realise that every e-mail inbox is under siege now as we all become more and more reliant on the Internet for our daily activities. We strive to provide up to the minute info and hope that you will benefit from the content and pass on the Newsletter to friends and associates. We welcome suggestions, comments, and any items of newsworthy publication.
All content is copyright Astral Driving School © 2000-2005 unless otherwise stated. You may print or forward providing all Authors resource boxes and links are kept intact and content unaltered.

About Astral Driving School.
Astral Driving School is based in Limerick, Ireland and provides tuition to all ages of Beginner Driver. We cover an extensive area of the Mid-West from Limerick and are very flexible when it comes to pick-up and set-down..
Our standard lesson or session is of two hours duration as we find this is better for both pupils and ourselves. With the heavy volume of traffic in the City and surrounds today we find that time schedules are difficult to adhere to if lessons last only one hour.
We operate an easy to drive V.W. POLO 1.4 (T.D.I) that is small enough to manage for a beginner but with the power to enable us to learn how to drive at higher speeds with no fuss. Most cars these days, in excess of 1.2 litre capacity, have good pulling power or Torque which is necessary for overtaking and performing other manoeuvres and of course cruising at higher speeds on carriageways or motorways.
We pride ourselves on teaching to a high standard and in equipping all pupils with the full range of driving experiences including Irish Rural roads and high speed carriageways.
Please visit our Web Site and Blogs for plenty of valuable information.
If you would like to receive each Blog post each morning via e-mail then visit the Blog and click on the FeedBlitz Button. The service works very well and efficiently. Astral Driving School Arrive Alive Blog


Breaking News!

(1) National Safety Council Head has had meetings with Government in an attempt to bring about a coordinated approach to Road Safety which is obviously lacking.370 plus road deaths are expected this year in Ireland and unless the backed up legislation is implemented soon this figure will return to the horrendous levels of several years ago prior to the introduction of Penalty Points. In just three years now since the introduction of the penalty points system we have the grand total of 4 out of 66 planned offences in operation! So we guesstimate that this will reach full implementation in the second half of this century. This despite two Computers totalling €13m!

(2) German Inventor Dr .Christian Koch has found a way to make Diesel out of Cats! Apparently 20 moggies may be needed for a Tankful so maybe we could see the creation of huge Cat Farms to fulfil this amazing discovery. We have plenty of stray cats who could be rounded up initially but then the Rodent population in the rural areas particularly would take over and that just wouldn’t do at all. So I guess its back to the drawing board.

(3) Not so much Breaking News as Groundbreaking. The Officers from the Customs and Excise staged a checkpoint outside the Dell Computer Plant in Limerick recently to question all foreign registered car owners .This is part of a growing phenomenon of large numbers of out of state cars being driven here with no means of keeping an eye on them. These are mostly from Eastern European accession States and sadly since these new cousins of ours don’t even have our current standards of Driving and Driving Test legislation in place at home, then it is likely these drivers will continue to figure in the fatal accident statistics previously reserved for Irish Citizens.


Guest Article.
Ten Quick Points for Improving you Driving Test Performance
By Arrive Alive in conjunction with Susan O’S.

Here are a few pointers for you to consider:
(1) Right foot ...use the right foot gently on both the gas and the brake pedals. Heavy braking will tell the Examiner that you haven’t prepared sufficiently in advance for your slow down! However when entering a busy major road from a minor road it’s important to get the power down promptly or a car approaching will be forced to brake heavily if you move off too slowly.

(2) When preparing to slow down… or stop for say traffic lights or slow moving traffic commence your braking by coming off the gas pedal promptly and THEN using the brake gently...this will be a lot smoother and will also save fuel and brakes.
(3) Select your chosen gear… for a maneuver in good time (mostly second gear) and never change gear during a maneuver--- (your hand is off the wheel) so you are steering with only one hand! Most, if not all, tight and blind turnings should be taken in first gear for a smoother maneuver and then if the road is clear you can accelerate away in second gear.

(4) Handbrake. The Ten Second Rule ...if you are going to be stopped for ten seconds or more,
in any situation then you should use the handbrake. This prevents the car from rolling, for example traffic lights and busy junctions. However if having stopped to make a left or right turn or to enter a roundabout and you can see that the road is completely clear then you should not use the handbrake and should move away immediately.

(5) Steering wheel technique… it’s important not to cross the hands and arms. Use the pull -push technique and it will improve your positioning.

(6) When turning Right ...imagine the centre line of the road into which you are turning, and extend it across your path. This is your turning point and you should not go beyond this mark.

(7) Reversing around the corner........
(a) Don’t go too far past the corner to commence your reverse.
(b) Stop about 14 /16 inches out from the curb.
(c) Pause at the APEX (half -way through the corner) and look Right and then left; if it’s clear, continue; if not stop and use handbrake until the traffic has gone, then continue. Get around the corner first, then bring yourself into the curb and pause again to observe and then finally reverse back in a straight line to your chosen stopping point, making sure that you are not obstructing any gateways.

(8) Roundabouts.... if you are at your entry point and a car coming from the right still has some way to go before it reaches Its entry point then you may go, in other words, it is not yet on the roundabout and therefore you are not obliged to give way. Obviously if this situation pertains but the on coming car is going too fast then it is prudent to wait and give way otherwise you are forcing the other car to brake heavily behind you. If you can see very clearly, as you approach your entry point and it is totally clear of traffic, then you do not have to stop and should enter with a little acceleration.

(9) Parked Cars not go right up to the rear of the obstruction before stopping; you have a much better view by staying a good distance back and it’s easier to judge whether you should go or are forced to stop by the oncoming traffic.
(10) Traffic Lights…You must be thinking and watching carefully the changing sequences of each set of lights; they are almost always different. You should be ready to move off the moment the lights go green otherwise other Drivers will take advantage and cause you difficulty.

Copyright Astral Driving School © 2004


Feature Article.
First Steps for the Irish Learner Driver
The main priority for today’s Learner Driver should not be passing the Driving Test but embracing the philosophy of skills for life initially.

Surely passing the Driving Test is the main objective? Not So!
Your main objective should be to acquire the necessary skills that will keep you, your passengers and all other road users safe. This makes sense, but is not taken on board by a very large proportion of Irish learner Drivers, with the result that we have an appalling accident record here which impacts on the whole community.
The first and arguably most important step for the new driver is to enrol with a Professional Driving School who will set the foundation for both basic and advanced skills and ensure that safety is a priority. The lack of basic skills throughout the motoring population is very widespread and stems from several inherent flaws which are only now beginning to be addressed by the Government.
Thankfully our membership of the European Club is forcing the various agencies that are involved in the whole motoring scene to take action and implement the various Directives on a structured time scale.

The Irish Driving Test only began in 1966 more than thirty years after the UK introduced that most feared of life events!
Most of the recent EU changes have usually taken effect here three or four years after the UK. These would comprise the Driver Theory Test, revised Test Marking Sheet, Provisional License revisions, and Mechanical Checks on the Practical Driving Test.

Aspects still to be rolled out will be Mandatory Tuition for Motorcycles and Cars and the long awaited Examination and Registration of Driving Instructors. One of the reasons for our poor standards on the roads, particularly within the young driver community is that Driving Instructor standards are not subject to scrutiny. It is quite commonplace to see Instructors giving tuition in a pupils car with no L plates displayed. This shows a complete disregard for the basic rule of Law and by extension the calibre of instruction has to be mediocre at best.
What can you expect on your first lesson with a Professional Instructor? Will you be taken into a city centre? Will you be taken on a high speed carriageway? Will you be driving off down the road in just five minutes? Absolutely not!
What will happen is a concentrated session covering many diverse subjects relating to both the workings of the car and all its equipment and a look at the current Driving Scene into which the new Driver is entering for the first time. An investigation of all the basic mechanics that are the responsibility of the Driver, and which now form part of the Driving Test, will take place, and a brief discussion on the current requirements of the Driving Test.

Once this is accomplished, the basic Cockpit Drill will be looked at along with all instrumentation and secondary controls. Following on from this section, a brief discussion on the use of the Gearbox will take place and then on to the most mystical of Car equipment …the Clutch. (That is of course assuming that we are driving a car with a manual Gearbox, with its accompanying Stick Shift.)
It surprises most beginners that it is the Clutch that moves the car and not the Gas pedal. In fact, since you are going to be on a level stretch of road for the first tentative steps, it is interesting to demonstrate that the Car does indeed move with the foot no where near the Gas Pedal.

This is the point at which we are learning the first real Driving Skill; that of understanding the Term “Biting Point” and how to recognise it.
In the very early stages, a complete mastery of being able to bring the Clutch to” Biting Point” and hold it steady is the key to Driving away smoothly in every different situation. No amount of gas pedal usage will move the car unless the clutch is at Biting Point first. Once the car begins to move, and is building up a little momentum, then the clutch can be fully released gently and the Gas pedal then comes into play.

Next follows a brief demonstration of the clutch control technique by the Instructor followed by the Pupil.
The sequence of moving off safely comes next, followed by the Real Thing, but of course it’s no use getting going if you then don’t know how to stop safely which will also be demonstrated. You are now on the move practising starting and stopping and the adrenalin is finally pumping after all the Theory!
Guess What? You will be doing the whole procedure in Reverse within a few minutes. Yes that’s right…Reversing! Reversing is such an integral part of every day driving that it’s something that can’t be left till later. If it is put off, then chances are that fear of failure will begin to creep in and that is not the object of Driving Lessons.
So there you have, in graphic (almost) detail, the first steps on your Driving Career. If you are going to progress steadily then you should be prepared to do plenty of homework in between your Lessons, with a pad and pen as well as reading the Notes which your Instructor will have given you!
There is plenty more where this came from, so take time to look at all the resources available throughout the Astral Driving School Web site and Blogs and you should be well on the way to the basic apprentice stage after three or four weeks. The Driving Test is not a consideration at this stage and will only be addressed when you have a suitable level of skill built up over several months.
Copyright Astral Driving School ©2000-2005


Tip of the Week.
The Legal Tyre Tread Depth of 1.6 mm is coming under scrutiny right now since it is not considered to be in safety’s best interests. At the Legal Limit your tyres will be 80% worn out and should be replaced. While you may think that the Tyre looks ok and seems to perform satisfactorily in the Dry; in the Wet it could be Lethal. Your grip will be drastically reduced and stopping distances similarly increased. Your best tyres should always be on the Front Axle and ideally when replacing a single tyre as a result of a puncture or heavy wear, buy Two and put them on the front. Two new tyres is not a high price to pay for your safety and that of your passengers.


Driving Test Tips.
(1) Be Ten Minutes early…….Six minutes late and you will go to the end of the waiting List and lose your Test Fee.
(2) Reverse into your space neatly prior to presenting yourself in the Office and drive Nose - In on your return at the end of the Test, again parking neatly. Test isn’t over until you are out of the car.
(3) Practise your under the Bonnet checks and answers long before the week of your Test. These checks came in on 14th February 2005.


Recommended Resources.
(1) National Car Test Centres………..
(2) Dept. of Transport ………..
(3) Driving Test Administration………
(4) Astral Links page………
(5) Astral Blog Arrive Alive……..
(6) Astral E-mail


Dawn Breaks over Test Center at 6.00am. Anyone for Coffee?

Thank Goodness its not today! Now where is that copy of the Rules of the Road?

As you can see Instructors and Pupils just love each other!

To see photos and to subscribe to the newsletter go to the web site home page and sign up with your e-mail address.

Authors Resource.

Robin Piggott has spent a lifetime behind the wheel and a fair amount of time buried under the bonnet of his many vehicles. Today’s technology means that you don’t need to get so down and dirty as in past times and that leaves more time for Driving and having Fun. His Web and Blog urls are listed below.
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