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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Driving Test Delays No Nearer to being Solved!

A brief Article on some of the reasons for the Irish Driving Tests Delay Syndrome(D.T.D.S) is being published as we Speak / Write or Drive but you can read the full text in glorious Wordpress-Scope (c) Astral Driving School. at our "other Blog"... Motorvating at

Here is a snippet:-

[[ We have talked and written a lot in the last six months about all the reasons for Driving Test Delays, of which there are many! It would make interesting reading to set up a questionnaire for the Public to see what the perception actually is.Depending on which sector one happens to belong to, the results would be stark in their emphasis.
(1) If you belong to the Mature Adult Sector then assuming you have been driving since your early twenties you will have built up a very substantial memory bank of situations, experiences and horror stories that will affect your opinion. You will no doubt be concerned that we have(a) no real incentive to progress beyond a Provisional Licence unless forced to, or (b) that today’s new young drivers seem to think that learning sufficient to “Pass the Test ”is quite enough driver education thank-you!............]]

Astral Driving School Limerick.Learning to Drive with the Right Attitude!

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Do Dog Handlers need to Pass a Dog Driving Test?

This morning’s post is inspired by an excellent new Website that specializes in Dog Training. It’s at the following link and the Author is Christi Upson who has been training dogs for more years than Joe Vitale has books to his credit. Who is Joe Vitale you might ask?

Well Joe is an exceptional Author and Internet marketer with way too many books to his credit to list here (sorry Joe ...Just couldn’t resist!).I think it was Joe Vitale’s web site that first introduced me to the wonderful world of the Internet and the opportunities therein. He also has the distinction of knocking Harry Potter off the Amazon top slot recently with one of his new books (way too many too mention here get the message!)

Christi’s web site is well worth a visit if you are a Can-0-phile and the articles on the various ways and means of getting your pooch to do its party pieces or behave in the Ring are entertaining and informative. The Dog that can walk backwards and then sway and play dead is an absolute howl (sorry!) Christi’s Blog is at .

Back to the task at hand in training not Dog Handlers but Car Handlers otherwise known as Provisional License Holders or Learner Drivers. Here in Ireland we have one of the worst Pedestrian Accident Statistics in Europe both Deaths and serious injuries. Children make up a good proportion of these figures every year. Why is this so?

Well apart from the fact that Children and Dogs are not born with an adequate level of road sense and need to be trained to cope with the rigours of road use, the indisputable fact that The Law does not seem to pursue Pedestrians and Cyclists or Dog owners that are a danger to other road users, makes a bad situation worse. It is quite common to see cyclists riding down the wrong side of the road and weaving in and out of traffic not to say the favourite trick of running red lights constantly.

Pedestrians completely ignore the Traffic Light instructions in most instances and indeed in my Daily efforts at training young Drivers for the Driving Test, I am having to point out the necessity of getting off the mark very promptly when you are lead car at the Traffic lights because if you don’t then you will be almost certainly be forced to come to a stop as six pedestrians on one side and four on the other launch themselves kamikaze style across the road in front of you. Obviously this is not a pleasant experience for a learner Driver or an experienced one for that matter.

Dog owners also make life difficult for the Driver by not having their charges on a lead frequently when walking on the pavement or sidewalk. Dogs are fine when they are in the park to be let loose to play but should be controlled at all other times. Dogs that are allowed to roam on their own create a huge hazard for the inexperienced Driver who will more than likely swerve when confronted with a dog in the road which can lead to serious accidents. One dog crossing the road is very often followed by another, rather like children playing outside their house when one decides to head home across the street.

When driving in a built up area my philosophy for dealing with children and dogs is the out for the ones you cannot see...Children and dogs seldom travel alone.You might be able to see two children on the pavement but there frequently can be several more out of sight just about to dash across in front of you as one of their friends get called in by Mum or Dad.

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Friday, January 20, 2006

S U V Debate Heightens across the Pond!

We all have our views on that most unfriendly and hideous looking of gas guzzling machines. Personally I think they should all be banned or at the very least the intending purchasers of such monstrosities should be forced to take so me additional Eco- friendly and Socio-friendly courses followed by a Driving Test concentrating on courtesy to other Road Users.
The small number of genuine usage-need drivers of this type of vehicle are far outweighed by the attention seekers and wealth flaunters in the community. Of course a good deal of these vehicles are cavorting in the building Industry which continues to boom relentlessly, fuelling yet more Sherman –Tank like legions on every road in the country.

There is a very excellent post about the Subject across the Atlantic which has attracted a mountain of comments so head on over to by Stuart Waterman and read to your hearts content!

The actual facts about the safety record of these vehicles I am sure would fill more than a book or two; my concern primarily, as always, is the driving style of any particular road user which often matches his or her vehicle in a disproportionate ratio to that of the cost of said machine!

Enough Said????? Not nearly enough..... Many of the second hand SUV's finding themselves looking for new owners before the paint has barely dried are finding their way into the hands of young and inexperienced drivers ('s unreadable!)
so this ain't a good omen for the immediate future.Novice Drivers should stick to normal sensible machines unless they happen to be Lumberjacks or Fishery Inspectors!

Astral Driving School Limerick.Learning to Drive with the Right Attitude!

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Test Your Ability on the Basics Part Two … The Answers!

Part Two

Here are the answers to yesterday’s Questionnaire...are you sitting comfortably?

1. Open the Bonnet/Hood?.. Usually the Bonnet or Hood release latch is under the dashboard to the extreme right or left. The new Ford Focus however has its release latch hidden inside the badge on the front of the Bonnet/Hood. This might be a trend for the future. I am not exactly sure what the advantage of this outside connection is, especially if you are unlucky enough to have to open it in the dark!

2. Identify all the Important equipment?....Are you training to be a Mechanic?...hardly but you will need to know the main equipment in order to answer the Questions correctly on your Driving Test. The reason for these questions is that all essential equipment needs to be identified correctly in an Emergency. These pieces of kit are oil level indicator (dipstick); coolant reservoir; brake fluid reservoir; screen wash reservoir; power steering fluid reservoir and for good measure the alternator drive belt.

3. Describe how to check the above?...Checks on this equipment basically refer to identifying their location and being able to assess maximum and minimum levels.

4. Tire Pressure?....A visual glance at a tire does not always give you the true picture. A tire can be 20% down in pressure and not give any clues. If a tire is visually down then it’s going to be as much as 75-80% deflated which means it’s in a highly dangerous state from a road –holding and ride perspective and is also likely to pick up a puncture very easily and wear out in a few days !

5. Three Tire checks?….Tire pressure/// Tread Depth/// Cuts splits and Bulges. Any of the latter evident means an immediate replacement of the tire as a blow out could be the result if you don’t.

6. Stop Sign?....A correct Legal stop is with the Fender/Bumper just behind the Stop Line and a stop is deemed to be valid after 2 to 3 seconds. A slow creep over the line followed by moving off is Not a Stop!

7. Handbrake?... It is not mandatory to use the Handbrake at a stop sign. The correct use of the handbrake is dependent on the time you will be stationary, while waiting for other traffic. Also the gradient of the road at your stopping point will determine whether or not you should use the Handbrake.

8. When not to Handbrake?...When you are only going to be stopped for 3-7 seconds approximately.

9. The Ten Second Rule?...If you are going to be stopped, anywhere, anytime, for any reason whatsoever for TEN seconds or more then you should apply the handbrake. This relaxes your feet and gets them off the pedals and clearly prevents the car from rolling either forwards or backwards.

10. Vehicle Ahead?...When stopping in normal traffic situations a useful guide is as follows—Tyres and Tarmac!—if you can’t see the tires of the vehicle ahead and some of the road then you are too close. In more extreme situations such as major Road works, Temporary Traffic Lights or Large Vehicles you should keep well back to see and be seen ; perhaps as much as two car lengths.

11. Three Steps to Improve Safety?...In heavy rain you should have dipped headlights on, your speed should be significantly reduced compared with normal driving conditions (perhaps 25 %); your distance from other vehicles, particularly large ones, should be increased by perhaps 300 to 400 %; maybe as much as six car lengths from your usual distance depending on the actual speed of the vehicles ahead. Your tire pressures should be checked if you are likely to encounter bad weather on your journey .tire pressures in any event should be checked weekly or every 500 miles(800kms)

12. Gear when Stopping?.. Preferably second gear…it is not necessary to down shift to first gear prior to your stop, although this might be useful if, when preparing to stop, the traffic moves off again and your speed has dropped below the second gear threshold. A smart assessment of the traffic’s progress will enable you to move off again smoothly in first gear as opposed to chugging or even stalling in second gear.

13. Blind Spot Check?...This should be over your shoulder when moving off from stationary, when changing lanes and when overtaking .Depending on which side of the road you are currently on your Blind spot can be on either the left or the right. Remember other road users can enter your space (your hidden space) in an instant and the rear view mirror check is not enough for complete safety.

14. Basic Checks?...These should be carried out weekly or every 500 miles(800 Kms)

15. Opposite Lock?...The turning of the Steering Wheel in the opposite direction to that which you are currently using. This technique is an essential component of successful reversing and will enable you to get out of insanely tight situations that other Drivers cannot cope with; and you will be able to complete your manoeuvre speedily and not take all day.

16. Stalling?.. Handbrake on –Footbrake off—into Neutral--- Foot off the Clutch……Then and only then do you reach for the ignition keys. On a Driving Test it is what you do After the Stall that counts, not he Stall per se.

17. Spare Bulbs?...Bulbs can go at any time, sometimes two in one day. They are inexpensive and rear bulbs, which control your Brake Lights, Indicators, Reversing Lights can be changed in a couple of minutes with practise. Front Bulbs and Headlight Bulbs are a very different story and mostly require the whole headlight assembly to be detached in order to replace them. This is extremely fiddly on most cars and best left to your Garage Mechanic who will be much more dextrous and get the job done in a fraction of the time. Carrying a full set of spare bulbs when travelling particularly long distances or abroad is an essential part of the Thinking Driver’s Emergency Kit.

18. Non Standard Configuration?...Roundabouts come in several different shapes and sizes. A Standard being a 4-exit Roundabout with each pair of exits opposite each other i.e. a straightforward crossroads with an Island in the middle. A non standard Roundabout Configuration could be either two (2) or three (3) exits and with the exits at unusual angles. Each type of Roundabout requires some different lane positioning and different signalling techniques.

19. Dashboard Warning Lights?...Firstly you should be able to identify the equipment that the light refers to without thinking and secondly you need to be able to bring the car to a halt within two hundred metres and park safely. If need be, in a busy or dangerous road situation take the car up onto the pavement or sidewalk to get it out of the way of passing traffic. This is the only time, I believe, that it is acceptable and sensible to mount the kerb. Stopping on the road creates a major hazard for all other drivers and of course you yourself as you are peering under the Hood/Bonnet to assess the problem. Do not ignore any Dashboard Warning Light... you do so at your Peril!

20. Brake Lights Check?. When you are on your own just take your short plank that is part of your kit for supporting the Jack in soft conditions and wedge it between the clutch or gas pedal touching the brake pedal. It doesn’t have to be that secure, just enough pressure to press lightly on the pedal to activate the brake lights. You can then visit the rear of the car to ensure all is well.

That’s it..Hope this has been of benefit to all of you reading this article and apologies to those of you who don’t possess a clutch pedal!

Astral Driving School Limerick.Learning to Drive with the Right Attitude!

Astral Driving School Blog …. “Arrive Alive”…

Astral Wordpress Blog……… ”Motorvating”

Hellhound on my Trail……. ”Our New Blues Blog”

A Basic First Steps Test for the Irish Learner Driver. Part One.

Test your Ability on the Basics!

This article was first Published in September 2005 but without the follow up answers!
Here it is again with part two containing appropriately "The Answers".Have a go and see how you get on!

The article deals with some of the essential Basics without which you haven’t a prayer on your Driving Test. There is an awful lot every pre-test Learner Driver can do to make the chances of passing more likely and No it doesn’t require spending more money on Lessons providing you have been to a Professional School in the first place (Hint!)
Can you answer the Following Questions?
Below is a list of Twenty Questions that every Learner Driver should be able to answer with 100% accuracy……..
If Not ….……you shouldn’t be sitting the Driving Test. Period!

1. Can you open the Bonnet/Hood of your car without fuss?

2. Can you identify all the important equipment that lives under the Bonnet/Hood?

3. Can you describe how to perform the checks on this Equipment?

4. Can you recognize when a Tire is low on pressure?

5. Can you describe the three Checks on a tire to ensure safety?

6. Can you stop correctly at a Stop sign?

7. Is it Mandatory to use the Handbrake at a Stop Sign?

8. Can you describe when not to use the Handbrake?

9. Do you know the meaning of “The Ten Second Rule?”

10. What is the most acceptable distance from the Vehicle ahead when stopping?

11. What three steps would you take to improve safety in heavy rain?

12. What gear should you use when stopping?

13. When would you check your blind spot?

14. How often should you perform your basic mechanical checks?

15. Do you understand the Term “Opposite Lock”?

16. What is the first action you take in the event of a Stall?

17. Do you carry spare Bulbs and why is this important?

18. What is meant by Non-Standard Roundabout Configuration?

19. What should you do if a Dashboard Warning light illuminates?

20. How would you check your Brake Lights were functioning if on your own?

Tomorrow/Today and in our next Article, which is appropriately entitled Part Two we will give the correct answers… so come along and see how you fared!(Or didn’t as the case may be).Lets be fair now you have at least 24 hours to do your Homework so a result of nothing less than 90% is unsatisfactory(extremely).

We apologize in Advance to those of you who drive on the “wrong “side of the road (lol) or who drive that strange Beast known as an SUV or in Europe known as a People Carrier. You don’t need any of the answers in Part Two since everyone else is expected to get out of your way!

Astral Driving School Limerick.Learning to Drive with the Right Attitude!

Astral Driving School Blog …. “Arrive Alive”…

Astral Wordpress Blog……… ”Motorvating”

Hellhound on my Trail……. ”Our New Blues Blog”

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Some new Articles posted today

At present we are sharing our posts with our Wordpress Blog ...."Motorvating"at

We have three new articles just posted at our main Article Directory at Ezine

Just a couple of days ago we launched our Blues Blog at Blogger.. it's at "Hell Hound on My Trail" We hope you will pay these sites a visit and get some useful info there.

Astral Driving School...Learning to Drive with the Right Attitude!

Saturday, January 14, 2006


The Internet has provided a fantastic resource for all writers to share their knowledge and experience with others and in so doing has created a whole new world for all of us.

Our own lifetimes experience on the road can now be shared with all who are interested and who need to achive a full Driving Licence with the greatest chance of success.

Here in Ireland unfortunately, the exponential growth in the Economy over the last ten years has put an inconceivable number of Learner drivers on the road in a very short time; which in turn has stretched the capabilities of all the Government Departments that deal with Driving Legislation , Driving Tests and implemetation of new Driving Legislation from the European Union to beyond breaking point.

Learner Drivers should realise that the capability of an untrained driver to avoid accidents is severely reduced compared with twenty to thirty years ago due to this unprecedented volume of traffic on the roads.The next year or two will see a continuance of the horrendous Road Traffic statistics that we have just seen in 2005 unless all Learner Drivers wake up to these facts and take responsibility for their actions (or inactions!)

WHAT TO DO?.......Its quite simple really ....take Driving Lessons from a Professional Driving School before you start to Drive not after you have either failed the Driving Test Three times or crashed your car.

We discovered a web site recently that critisized the common practise of Professional Driving Schools in teaching Pupils skills for life rather than helping them to Pass a Driving Test. We have always believed that SKILLS FOR LIFE far outways the need for passing the Driving Test as a main focus.Of course passing the Test will give the Driver a better Insurance quotation but that 's not much use to you if you are either Dead or in a Wheel Chair. Blunt and Brutal statement but true.Just ask the Family and friends of Motor Accident victims and you will see what we mean!

Astral Driving School Limerick. Learning to Drive with the Right Attitude.

Astral Driving School Blog …. “Arrive Alive”…

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Thursday, January 12, 2006


Today’s post looks at the Fatal Accident figures for Ireland for 2005 and proffers some hard hitting facts as to why we are failing to deal with the continuing carnage. Can our accident rate be reduced? Can we accept responsibility ourselves for these horrendous statistics? Can we do anything about it? Can we put in place some basic infrastructure that will eventually see some results?

The answer to all these questions is a resounding YES. While the poor record of successive Ministers of Transport in dealing with our Road Safety problems needs to be looked at, each and every Driver can play a part in improving the figures that have just been released.

The year just gone has seen a Death Toll of 399 on the roads, which is the worst figure in Five Years. While it may seem that we are rapidly going backwards in our attempts to reduce fatalities, in fact, when you consider the huge increase in vehicles on the roads in the last five years our performance perhaps is not so bad. In addition to fatal accidents the rise in so-called every day accidents could easily be reduced by the implementation of properly trained learner Drivers, through Regulated Driving Schools. Almost every day on the road we come across accidents involving learner Drivers, sometimes several Learners in the same accident.

Most if not all deaths on the Roads could be prevented if the standard of just basic Driving Skills were improved across the board from the learner Driver of age 17 to the Mature Driver in his or her 60’s.

1. Implement the long overdue Driving School Legislation which is now fours years overdue from the date it was supposed to be enacted.

2. Implement the Full package of Penalty Points, now three years on and still only four out of sixty six offences in action.

3. Remove the anomaly, unique in Europe, of Learner Drivers driving unaccompanied.

4. Implement a minimum mandatory number of Driving Lessons from an Accredited Driving School before being allowed to sit a Driving Test. This has been talked about and talked about….you get the picture! This strategy would of course focus Learner Drivers on the necessity for taking tuition from a Professional and reduce the long waiting lists for a Driving Test.

5. Mandatory re training of all drivers who clock up a certain number of Penalty points within a short time.

6. Additional Mandatory Training for commercial vehicle Drivers who are involved in an increasing number of more serious accidents. Again we see these on the roads every day and one of the main reasons for the rush here-rush there syndrome is the pressure from the Transport Manager in their respective Companies.

We will continue this theme throughout the Month since a New Year is a good time to evaluate what has passed and what improvements can be put in place in the Current Year. Also it’s worth being aware of this time of year especially, since our window of worst weather conditions is upon us for the next two months or so.

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