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Limerick Driving Schools: An Instructor’s Perspective

Driving schools in Limerick are much the same as elsewhere; a mix of full-time professionals; some part-time instructors; some occasional Trainers and the usual crop of drivers posing as Trainers. The lack of formal and ongoing monitoring of Driving Instructor Examinations has meant that anyone with a driver’s license can stick a sign on the roof of their car and call themselves an Instructor. There are many such examples across the country and Limerick is no exception. Unfortunately, the level of skill displayed by the majority of learner drivers in Limerick is a reflection of the lack of commitment by successive governments to tackle head-on the various issues related to driving and learning to drive. If there is no culture of Professional Driving Classes, only a lemming fascination to pass the Driving Test and nothing more; so it’s no wonder we have one of the worst-equipped driver populations in Europe.

Currently, the newly created Road Safety Authority is processing the proposal to create an official Register of Driving Teachers. The new Register will come into force in the summer of 2007 and will finally bring some semblance of order to the Profession, and with it the long-awaited improvement in Drivers’ Standards which will one day reduce the horrific accident statistics that are common in Ireland by the present. . A three-part examination process, along with additional teachability checks and vehicle inspections, will certainly weed out all those who are not committed to achieving the highest standards and continuing further professional development.

The format of the Examinations and the continuous monitoring of the Instructors will be based on the European Standard; in line with Brussels’ ongoing effort to bring all 25 EU states to a common standard of license plate principles and test drive parameters.

Ireland is one of the few countries within the EU community that has not long established regulation and control of driving school standards. There is also no current mandatory license plate for learner drivers, which has led to a virtually free-for-all situation on roads across the country for many years. This has led to dismal driving standards across the entire driver population; a waiting list for the driving test that is probably the worst in Europe with approximately 11 months at the moment and a cost to the State of around 1,500 million euros per year to deal with the consequences of a horrendous accident.

Driving test results in the Limerick and Midwest area have generally been at the higher end of the scale for a number of years in contrast to other parts of the country that have not fared well in passing rates. Probably the enormous increase in the population at the local level has contributed to the knowledge of the Driving Schools and their visibility. Perhaps more Learner Drivers have been persuaded to take professional lessons than many of those residents of more rural areas where practice with the Fathers or in the nearest backcountry seems to be recognized as the rite of passage!

There have been many fatal accidents on rural roads, which will always be the most dangerous driving environments, especially in the fall and winter months, so all beginning drivers should be routinely instructed and tutored on these roads. Too many driving instructors focus entirely on the driving test and city roads when a broader scope of lessons that includes driving on high-speed highways and country roads should be an essential part of the curriculum. This type of training would certainly save lives and reduce accident statistics.

For Limerick learner drivers the choice is clear… take enough professional lessons and gain advanced skills from a suitably qualified instructor before venturing out in your own car and into the blue beyond. Simply buying a car and hoping to pick up some skills along the way will not keep you alive and will not allow you to pass your driving test in Limerick. The volume of traffic in and around the city and county is now very significant as the University and other colleges continue to expand and businesses are attracted to the region. Dealing with this growth in traffic as a learner driver takes a lot of practice if you are going to stay safe and out of trouble.

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