I already hold a learner permit—how do the changes affect me?
The compulsory lessons will not apply to you as you already hold a learner permit in the applicable licence category. The lessons only apply to those who took out their first learner permit for motorcycles on or after 6 December 2010, and for cars on or after 4 April 2011.
Why are compulsory lessons needed by learner drivers?
We learn skills in many different ways—the research about learning to drive tells us that formal lessons from a driving instructor covering the basic skills, combined with many hours putting the skills into practice under supportive supervision, is the best way to learn to drive.
Many learners already take lessons, focussing largely on how to pass the driving test, and this is important. However, the aim of the programme of lessons now being developed is to build long-term skills that will benefit the learner for life.
What is involved in compulsory motorcycle lessons?
An initial basic training programme covering on-road and off-road lessons has been developed calling on best practice. The lessons will cover: rules of the road, motorcycle controls, technical checks, managing the vehicle and motorcycle riding skills. View the Initial Basic Training Course Syllabus for Motorcycling(PDF).
The off-road element is delivered by the driving instructor in a secure compound; the instructor also oversees the on-road lessons. Completing the lessons takes a minimum of 16 hours.
Whilst there is no formal examination at the completion of the lessons, the trainer will continually assess the learner's progression through the modules.
What is involved in the compulsory car lessons?
The lessons cover the key skills needed by a learner driver. Among other aspects, the programme covers: knowledge of rules of the road, understanding your vehicle, vehicle manoeuvring, developing hazard perception skills and responsibilities of the driver to other road users.
The learner may take the lessons at any point during the learning process and can also practice with an accompanying driver whilst taking lessons. Completing these lessons takes a minimum of 12 hours. Evidence of completing the lessons will be signed off in a learner’s logbook by the Approved Driving Instructor. Whilst there is no formal examination at the completion of the lessons, the trainer will continually assess the learner's progression through the modules.
A number of countries already require mandatory lessons: in the Czech Republic there is a minimum of 34 hours, in Poland 30 hours, while a minimum of 13 hours is required in Austria.
How are the lessons enforced?
Motorcycle riders must complete the programme before driving unsupervised on the road as a learner. After the lessons are completed you will get a certificate of satisfactory completion which must be kept with your learner permit.
For both car and motorcycle lessons, you will have to present evidence of having taken the lessons before sitting a driving test.
Will the RSA set the price for compulsory lessons?
No—there are presently some 1,800 ADI’s in Ireland and this allows for a strong element of competition in the market. These ADI’s have met set standards relating to their own knowledge of rules of the road, their driving skills and the ability to deliver tuition.
How will the role of the accompanied driver be strengthened?
The best way to learn is through practice. A rounded driver needs to have driven many thousands of kilometres to experience the many different kinds of traffic, weather and road conditions that demand a reaction from a driver.
It is now well established that learning under the guidance of a knowledgeable supervisor is an effective way to build up driver competence. Too often the experience in Ireland has been that the accompanying driver acts in a passive role. Following the passing of legislation, the role of the accompanying driver has been formalised. Suitable support and guidance materials have been developed to help the accompanying driver better understand the role he or she can play in the learning process.
What changes are planned for the driving test?
It is proposed to introduce changes to the test in late 2011 that will improve the learning experience. Both Holland and the UK have introduced aspects of independent driving to the test and this addition is being considered for introduction in Ireland.
Generally, independent driving involves asking the learner to drive to a set point (usually a local landmark) without direction from the driver tester; this requires decision making by the learner that has been shown to be a good indicator of driving ability.
It is planned to carry out a pilot phase of any changes with first time learner permit holders to assess its effectiveness.
The driving test service will be subject to external accreditation.
What is the significance of introducing R Plates?
In recognition that the learning process continues after the driving test is passed, some restrictions will continue to apply to drivers for two years after taking out a full licence.
New legislation is needed to introduce the R Plate. The first related restriction will take effect after September 2011, when the lower alcohol levels are applied to novice drivers.
It is also planned to apply a higher level of penalty points to learner and novice drivers for specific high risk offences when the legislation is in place. The R Plate also indicates to other road users that you are a novice driver.
What changes will happen to the driver theory test?
The driver theory test was updated in 2006 and it will be further enhanced in late 2011.