Driving Test Preparation – Observations

Driving Test Preparation – Observations

For anyone with a driving test coming up shortly.
Below are pointers to what you need to be aware of for Observations

Observation

Moving Off

  • Moving off from the kerb to your right, check middle and right mirror, right shoulder blind spot, signal if safe and move off while looking the direction you are going.
  • Moving off to the left at T Junction, check middle and left mirror, left shoulder blind spot and move off while looking the direction you are going.

Overtaking

  • Check middle and right mirror, signal right, glance over your right shoulder (90 degrees) out the driver side window (do not look behind you) and pull out.
  • Ensure you can see vehicle you’ve overtaken in middle mirror before moving back in.

Changing Lanes

  • Check middle and right mirror, signal right, glance over your right shoulder (90 degrees) out the driver side window (do not look behind you) and pull out.
  • Moving into left lane check middle and left mirror, left shoulder glance and move to left lane if safe.

Cross Roads

  • Scan ahead on approach for any potential hazards.
  • Check appropriate mirrors on approach.
  • If stopped at a closed junction where your view is restricted, creep your vehicle forward under control while leaning forward and scanning to the left, to the right and in front.
  • Make sure you can see clearly both sides before moving off.
  • While moving, make sure to be looking the direction your car is going.
  • Once you are on the new road scan ahead and have a quick glance in your middle mirror and right mirror to get familiar with what is behind you.

Roundabouts

  • Check appropriate mirrors on approach.
  • Scan ahead and split your vision on approach for any potential hazards.
  • Do not focus only on what is in front of you in your lane of traffic. You also need to get an idea of what’s happening with any traffic approaching from your right hand side at the roundabout so make sure to check early.
  • Once you see the gap, be prepared to take as long as the traffic in front of you is clear.
  • Check middle and left mirror and left shoulder glance exiting roundabout.

Turning Right

  • Middle and Right mirror on approach.
  • Scan ahead on the road to see if there is any traffic approaching from the opposite direction.
  • Very important to ensure you look into the new road you’re turning into for any hazards.
  • Have a final check in your right mirror to ensure no one is trying to overtake you.
  • Once you’ve turned scan ahead and quick check in your middle and right mirror to see what’s behind you.

Turning Left

  • Middle and Left mirror on approach.
  • Scan ahead and ensure you look into the new road you’re turning into for any hazards.
  • Once you’ve turned scan ahead and quick check in your middle and right mirror to see what’s behind you.

Best of luck,

Padraic

Driving Test Preparation – Positioning

Driving Test Preparation – Positioning

For those with a driving test coming soon.

Positioning

On the Straight

  • Correct position is slightly to the left on the straight.
  • Don’t drive to close to the white line in the centre of the road.
  • Give plenty of clearance (1 metre or a doors width) to parked vehicles.

On Bends

  • Make sure you are not too tight on the left going around a left bend or to close to the white line in the centre going around a right bend.

In Traffic Lanes

  • Keep within your road lane markings unless you need to move around an obstacle.
  • If there are no road markings use the edge of the road on the left to help you with your positioning.
  • Stay safe distance to vehicle in front.

At Cross Roads

  • If turning left keep to the left side on approach.
  • If turning right keep to the right side on approach.

At Roundabouts

  • If going “left” keep in left lane on approach.
  • If going “straight” keep in the left lane on approach and keep lane discipline by staying out in the left lane as going around the roundabout. Do not cut in too tight when crossing roundabout.
  • If turning “right” keep in right lane on approach and stay in close to roundabout until exiting.

Turning Right

  • Position vehicle close the white line in the centre of the road.
  • If you need to stop make sure the front of you car is approx in line with the middle of the road you are turning into.
  • Do not cut the corner.
  • Get back into normal driving position to the left as soon as you can.

Turning Left

  • Keep your position towards the left and take the corner neatly by following the inside of the corner
  • Don’t swing to wide or cross the white line in the new road you’ve turned into
  • Don’t mount or clip the kerb. Pay particular attention to back left wheel, it takes a shorter route than the others!

Stopping

  • Don’t stop on pedestrian crossing or yellow box when going straight ahead.
  • Don’t cause an obstruction.
  • Make sure you can see the “tyres on tarmac” of the vehicle in front of you.

Following Traffic

  • “Only a fool breaks the two second rule”.
  • Wet weather doubles it.
  • Make sure you can stop within the distance that you can see to clear ahead of you.

Best of luck,
Padraic

Driving Test Preparation – Reaction to Hazards

Driving Test Preparation – Reaction to Hazards

This is all about anticipation and reaction i.e. the earlier you see something the sooner you react to it. Make sure you look well ahead of you.
A hazard is anything that might make you change your speed or your direction. There are moving hazards and static hazards e.g. pedestrians, cyclists, speed bumps, potholes etc
Get as much driving experience as possible in all road, traffic and weather conditions.

Some examples of good anticipation:

  1. Never take the actions of another road user for granted. Be prepared to stop even if you have right of way!
    Always look several cars ahead of you rather than at the car that’s directly in front. If you see brakes light ease of the gas while having a quick glance in your middle mirror and then apply the brakes if necessary.
  2. When driving in traffic be wary of the vehicle in front is they are driving unusually slow, they may be looking for somewhere to pull in and park. Leave them plenty of room to manoeuvre. Often they may drive passed a parking spot, stop and reverse into the spot to park. Remember reverse lights are white so be ready to react if you see reverse lights coming on. You don’t want to stop to close and have to reverse yourself.
  3. Watch out for your vulnerable road users i.e. pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Pedestrians often walk in between vehicles (if raining they may be running) cyclists may swerve to avoid potholes / puddles.
  4. Always leave enough room between you and the vehicle in front, make sure you have enough time to stop within the distance ahead of you that is clear.

To summarise, you must “React promptly and properly to hazards” so as soon as you see a potential hazard ahead ease of the gas while checking your middle mirror, cover the brake and apply if necessary.
Best of luck,
Padraic

Finding the bite point: Never stall a car again!

Finding the bite point: Never stall a car again!

The bite point is when the clutch plate engages your fly wheel (engine plate). You will know you are at the bite point by either of the following methods:

  • You’ll hear the engine make a slightly different sound due to the revs dropping and you’ll also see the rev counter needle drop a little
  • Also if you look at the front of the car, you’ll also see it ‘lift’ up a tiny amount (sometimes you can actually feel that little lift too) when at the bite point

Practice finding the bite point and moving off smoothly as follows

  1. Press the clutch fully to the floor and select 1st gear
  2. Set the gas (accelerator) pedal to approx 2000 revs and hold the gas pedal steady
  3. Slowly bring the clutch up to the bite point and keep your foot still (listen to engine or watch front of car lift to recognise the bite point)
  4. Check your mirrors and blind spot and then indicate if safe to move
  5. Release your handbrake and only then slowly lift the clutch whilst slowly pressing the gas, you’ll pull away slowly and under control

If you stall moving off it’ll be for one of the following reasons:

  1. You brought the clutch up to fast and the clutch plate and fly wheel have slammed together causing the engine to stop
  2. You’ve brought the clutch up passed the bite point before releasing the handbrake
  3. You haven’t got enough revs on the gas pedal to get the vehicle moving

Once you’re comfortable with the clutch you will rarely stall which will lead to you becoming a much more confident driver

The Hill Start. Never stall or roll back on a hill again!

The Hill Start. Never stall or roll back on a hill again!

The hill start is one of the most intimidating features for those learning to drive and indeed even for more experienced drivers. When hill starts go wrong you’ll more than likely experience one of the following:

  • The car stalling
  • The car rolling back

Firstly let’s have a look at why a car stalls on a hill start.

  1. Your car may stall on a hill start if you don’t have enough gas (accelerator). You must set the gas to at least between 2000 – 3000 revs in order to give the car the power to get up the hill.
  2. Your car may also stall on a hill start if the clutch comes up to fast (i.e. past the bite point) therefore not allowing the clutch plate and the fly wheel to engage smoothly.

Now let’s look at why cars roll back on hill starts.

  1. Your car will roll backwards if you do not apply your handbrake when stopped on a hill.
  2. When looking to move off again on a hill start your car will roll backward if you release the handbrake before you’ve found the bite point. This is one of the biggest misunderstandings with the hill start. Most people assume it’s the gas pedal that moves the car up the hill when in fact it’s a combination of the clutch and the gas pedal. Your car will struggle to move up the hill unless you’ve both found the bite point and set the gas to at least between 2000 – 3000 revs.

Here is the correct procedure for hill starts.

  1. Secure your car on the hill with your handbrake
  2. Clutch to the floor and select 1st gear
  3. Set the gas to between 2000 – 3000 revs and hold the gas pedal steady
  4. Slowly bring the clutch up to the bite point and hold at the bite point (NB don’t come up even a fraction higher on the bite point while your handbrake is on)
  5. Release your handbrake while keeping your clutch at the bite and keeping your revs set to about 2000 with your gas pedal.
  6. Keep your clutch coming up very slowly (about the width of a euro coin at a time) while pressing your gas pedal down slightly further to give the car more revs and therefore power and your car will start to move up the hill.

I can promise if you follow this routine you will never have any issues with your hill start again

Local Driving Tips: Maynooth Roost Junction on the Kilcock Road

Local Driving Tips: Maynooth Roost Junction on the Kilcock Road

As this junction is controlled by traffic light right of way generally isn’t an issue however it can become quite tricky at times especially during rush hour traffic and when schools finish.

Things you need to watch out for if you are coming from the Maynooth Square direction are:

  1. Make sure you get into your correct lane position in good time.
    If you are going straight towards the Castle or turning left going up towards the Train Station then approach in the left lane. If you are following the road round heading towards Kilcock direction make sure you don’t turn into the filter lane too early or you risk the possibility of a collision with oncoming traffic. Don’t worry if the lights are still red for turning right and you are blocking up traffic behind wanting to go on straight, there is nothing you can do except wait for your green filter arrow.
  2. If you are the first car in the queue at the red lights and they turn green please make sure there are no pedestrians still looking to cross late, if the pedestrian has already started to cross the road then yield to them, remember a green light means “proceed with caution”.
  3. If you are the first car in the queue and turning left at the red lights, when they turn green please make sure you have a quick glance over your left shoulder and left wing mirror to ensure a cyclist hasn’t slipped up on the inside.
  4. If you are turning right towards Kilcock direction remember the yellow box rule i.e. you can only enter a yellow box if you can clear it without stopping. The one exception is that you can stop in it if you turning right and your exit is clear. Please don’t enter the yellow box if traffic is backed up ahead of you going to Kilcock. You run the risk of the traffic lights changing colour and you blocking up the junction.

Things you need to watch out for if you are coming from the Kilcock Road direction are:

Make sure you get into your correct lane position in good time.

If you following the road round to the left heading into main street then stay in the left lane and watch for the green filter arrow to allow you to proceed. If you are going straight towards the Train Station or turning right to go towards the Castle direction make sure again that you don’t enter the filter lane to early. Also be aware of traffic exiting from Pound Lane.

  1. If you are going straight towards the Train Station wait till you have a main green light and then proceed with caution, be very wary of pedestrians making a late dash to cross and of traffic coming from the Train Station direction. You do have right of way but that doesn’t always mean other road users will obey!
  2. If you are turning right up towards the Castle direction and you have a green light you must yield right of way to the traffic coming from the Train Station direction, whether that traffic is turning left towards the Castle direction or going straight on towards the Kilcock direction. You can now proceed if the road is clear

Things you need to watch out for if you are coming from the Train Station direction are:

  1. If turning left and the light is green ensure there is nothing on your left hand side blind spot before proceeding left. As always scan across the junctions for pedestrians as you will be driving across a pedestrian crossing.
  2. If going straight towards Kilcock direction scan left and right as you proceed on the green light. Again be wary of pedestrians crossing ahead. Pedestrians are unpredictable, as drivers we were once pedestrians too!!
  3. If turning right heading up towards the Square, proceed with caution on the green light. Be particularly cautious to ensure traffic coming from the Square direction and Kilcock direction has come to a full stop; sometimes you can get people trying to “beat the orange lights”. Also as before be wary of pedestrians because again you will be driving across a pedestrian crossing.

Things you need to watch out for if you are coming from the Castle direction are:

  1. Get your correct lane position early, if going left you are in the left filter lane, if going straight towards the Square or turning right towards the Train Station you are in the right hand lane.
  2. If you are turning left and the light is green is on, after checking to see that there are no pedestrians still crossing and checking your left hand side blind spot for cyclists you can proceed with caution.
  3. If turning right towards the Train Station and the light is green you do have right of way over traffic coming from other directions. Please ensure junction is clear of pedestrians before.
  4. Now the tricky one. If you are going straight and the light is green remember the yellow box rule i.e. you can only enter a yellow box if you can clear it without stopping. Please don’t enter the yellow box if traffic is backed up ahead of you going towards the Square direction. You run the risk of the traffic lights changing colour and you blocking up the junction. This last case is something we see regularly and is caused by the traffic being backed up due the red traffic lights at the Square. Be patient and the traffic will move.

If there is anything you are unsure of above or if there are similar junctions you’d like to discuss just leave a comment below