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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Fast Approaching…Baked Bean Can Exhausts and Sooty Windows Outlawed!

On the first of January next, which is fast approaching we will have two landmarks to contend with .The Fourth Anniversary of the Non- Implementation of Driving School Registration and Monitoring and the Commencement of the stricter N.C.T rules regarding sporty exhausts (you know the Catering Size Baked Bean Cans welded together!) and blackened windows.
We were fortunate to be invited to take part in a discussion live on Limerick 95 Fm earlier this month on this and other related Driving subjects. Ed Myers, who handles the Morning show with considerable dexterity and choice of subject, allows me air time several times a year to put forward my opinions on All things Auto.

There is so much going on in the World of Driving, Driving Tests, Learner Drivers and Driving Schools on a daily basis that it is quite a task to keep abreast of it all, even as a Professional Instructor.

My views on the two aforementioned subjects are fairly predictable. Exhausts with fancy notes are not dangerous per se, but more a nuisance, especially if you live next door to someone who goes off to work at 7.00am in his Honda or Mazda and needs to warm the motor up before disappearing in a puff of early morning smoke. Noise pollution it may be, but there are far more insidious aspects of motoring to be dealt with.

As for blackened windows that’s a different story. I believe it’s important to be able to see the other Driver, his actions or inactions and his or her body language .Being able to see the age and demeanour of the Driver and also the passengers is an essential safety aspect and identifying the standard of the Driver in front of you, or behind you will enable you to be ready for mistakes. If you are unable to see the Driver because of darkened windows you are at a severe disadvantage in predicting the likelihood of a particular action of a suspect Driver.

Since about 95% of Drivers do not use the correct technique when giving way to other vehicles; i.e..they wave or gesticulate or flash their lights, or sometimes all three together, you are not going to know what in Heavens name is going on if you are in this confrontational situation with vehicle with blackened windows. Being able to see the other Driver and his or her actions is essential in making the correct decisions yourself.

There was to have been some discussion on the merits of prohibiting Learner Drivers from Driving after Dark. Unfortunately the Politician who was lined up to broach this subject was unavailable. Let me give my view on this subject.

Most serious accidents involving Learner Drivers happen in the Night time or Socialising Zone, often in the early hours of the Morning. Unfortunately during these periods it is very common for Learner Drivers to be accompanied by a whole army of mates in varying states of alcoholic stupor and this invariably means greater fatalities during a serious crash. Drivers should learn to drive at night with a qualified license holder in all road and weather conditions before venturing out on their own. The autumn and Winter Months, especially on country roads, present a real challenge to a new driver and should be taken very seriously. It is not an option I think, to ban Learner Drivers after Dark but it could be part of a better training Programme to ensure that Drivers have a certain verified amount of night time Driving before sitting their Driving Test. In addition to a certain number of mandatory Lessons, this would be a move in the right direction. Mandatory tuition is common throughout Europe and would be instrumental in reducing serious accidents here on the Roads.

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