Saturday, December 3, 2011

Banishing those L Plates!!!

No I’m not talking about a weekend in Kilkenny.... this ain’t a hen party!

Instead this is a graduate’s attempt at learning how to drive!

Lesson 1: What side of the road do we drive on?

INSTRUCTOR: What side of the road do we drive on here?

ME: Eh... obviously the left hand side.

INSTRUCTOR: Good. So why are you driving on the right??

ME: Eh.... because my first driving experience was in a field where sides were unimportant? There are no line markings on the back roads of Cavan? Because I’m originally from France? Are you buying any of these excuses?

INSTRUCTOR: Not one.... just keep left and drive!

Lesson 2: Speed Limits are there to be obeyed!

Ah, the age old adage! We’ve all struggled with this one. Reigning the speed limit back in to 50km in built up areas is trying for most – but not for me! Building the speed up to 50km was my downfall. Although when my driving instructor kindly informed me that it is possible to fail your driving test for lack of progress, my foot was firmly on the accelerator!

Lesson 3: Mastering the art of driving!

When conducting the 3 point turn in a housing estate, it is not acceptable to use someone’s drive way (In my defence no one told me I couldn’t)!!

Rear view mirrors are not purely for vanity purposes!! (Can you blame a girl for wanting to look her best?)

It is important to overtake slow moving vehicles but NEVER overtake a hearse! (It could very nearly happen!)

There is NO reason to be staring out the front window of your car as a means of observation when reversing around a corner! (The back or side window is obvious answer to this one – just not as obvious to me!)

When overtaking a vehicle or cyclist on the LHS of the road, check the RHS mirror NOT THE LEFT there very well could be something overtaking you (you are going at 30km after all)!!!

And lastly when you ask your instructor what can happen if the steering wheel feels loose and he informs you that it means it will fall off in your lap... please sense the tone! It’s called humour – the steering wheel won’t be going anywhere soon!)

Lesson 4: Sound effects are unnecessary!

Your driving instructor does NOT want to be deafened during your lessons. So on all occasions whether there is an obstruction, you’ve ran a red light, you’re too close to that damn cyclist, or you’re in a yellow box and most definitely shouldn’t be..... refrain from SHRILLING!! It will not improve your driving, and it will certainly not increase your instructor’s desire to give you another lesson.....

Lesson 5: Bad rehearsal means a good show, right?

One final lesson before the test they say it’s a good idea, but when you’re entire knowledge of driving crumbles you aren’t so sure! Forgetting to use your mirrors, forgetting that stop signs mean you must come to a halt as opposed to cruising on, conking the car as you attempt a hill start, mounting the kerb during your reverse around the corner, and a near collision with a van on my route home (thank god for dual controls in the instructor’s car... otherwise there would definitely have been a dint in his car and my ego!) doesn’t exactly instil much confidence in you during your pre test lesson!! And when your instructor jokingly reminds you that a ‘Bad rehearsal means a good show, right?’ BELIEVE HIM!!


When the tester informs that you that his career means he is just as disliked as you (Cheers mate..I'm a banker after all), contents himself with looking out the window for the duration of the test, and seems relatively confident of your driving ability – you know what, it ain’t all that bad!

You begin to realise when you’re instructor informed you that despite being hell bent on driving on the RHS of the road, you are much better than you think.... he may not have been lying! Your fate lies in a series of mirror, signal, and manoeuvres, reactions to hazards, a hill start, a reverse around a corner and a three point turn. A mere 40 minutes to prove that like the car you’re driving, that you too are road worthy!!

‘There are things you need to work on, but for now, you’ve reached the level of competency.’

Yes, despite all of the above, on December 1st I managed somehow to pass my driving test and banish those L plates.

Bad rehearsal mean’s a good show? There must be some truth in that saying after all!!

On a final note, please notify all other drivers, that I have now been deemed road worthy! If you don’t, fear not, as I’m pretty sure AA will give me a shout out for one of my hazardous moves in the near future!

Until I dint the rear of your car.... or knock your wing mirror off,

The Forgotten Irish Graduate December 1st 2011