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Frequently Asked Questions

At Pinnacle Driving School we encourage pupils to ask questions on anything they are unsure about. We can guarantee that no matter how trivial, silly or stupid you think the question is, we can guarantee that it won’t be something we have already been asked a hundred times before. Only by asking questions can you fill in the gaps in your knowledge and learn faster. Below are some of the most common questions we are asked.

If you have any similar queries please email info@drivinglessonsdublin.ie and we will both reply in person and add the question and answer to this page.

You do not have to be a current pupil of Pinnacle Driving School to avail of this service.

Q : Do I always have to put on the handbrake when stopped in traffic?

The handbrake is the parking brake so should be used when stopped for 10 seconds or longer. If you are stopped but looking to move off right away (such as in slow moving traffic) then it is not necessary. Similarly if stopped at a Stop sign and looking to move off right away then it is not necessary. However of a “Stop” becomes a “Wait” (there is no visible sign of a gap in the traffic in order to proceed) then the Handbrake should be applied.

The above does not take into account whether or not the car is on a hill or not. If the car stops but is moving off within a few seconds (slow moving traffic or Stop junction) then clutch control can be used to prevent the car from rolling back and avoid the use of the handbrake. A longer wait would merit the handbrake being applied as otherwise the car may roll backwards once the foot comes off the brake onto the accelerator when moving off.

Q : Do I always have to put on the handbrake when stopped at traffic lights?

No. If you are the 1st 2 cars then leaving it off may assist your progress moving off and enable more cars to get through the lights. Judgement should be used in relation to how long the lights are likely to stay red by the size of the junction, how long it’s been since they turned red and by looking at other traffic lights (if the other lanes have a green light then your lane will likely stay red).

If 3rd or more cars back it is best applying the handbrake for a number of reasons. There will be less wear and tear on the clutch as well as gives the driver a chance to rest his feet. If a driver is sitting with his foot on the footbrake instead of the handbrake then the brake lights may be dazzling the car behind (especially in dark and wet conditions) and also if the handbrake isn’t applied and a car drives into the back of you then you are less likely to jolt forward and hit the car in front than if simply sitting with the foot on the brake pedal.

Q : Is it true that testers have a quote to fill and that if your test is in the afternoon or on a Friday you are less likely to pass because the testers will possibly have hit their quota already?

Complete Nonsense. The testers want to see people pass but if faults are made then it is their duty to record it. They will not manufacture faults. If more failures occur in the afternoon than mornings it is because the traffic in the morning (especially between 9:30am-12pm) is much lighter and so less hazards to deal with and easier exiting junctions. Similarly Friday traffic tends to be heavier with people leaving work/school early and so with more traffic and hazards more faults are likely to occur.

Q : When stopped what do I do 1st – put the handbrake on or put the car in neutral?

It doesn’t matter as long as both are done. I’d encourage pupils to go out of gear 1st as quite often once the handbrake is on the pupil thinks everything is done any may forget about putting the car in neutral before releasing the clutch. However this is a minor thing and as long as both are done then don’t worry about the order.

Q : Do you always have to indicate overtaking parked cars?

The purpose of indicating is to give advance warning of your intentions. If you think someone may benefit from indicating then you should do so. However if it is fairly obvious what you are doing already then it isn’t necessary and can actually be confusing. For example on a long road with plenty of parked cars at the side, if it is obvious that you are going straight and overtaking them then it isn’t necessary to indicate. However if you think a car behind may not see the obstruction or may benefit from knowing you are about to move out (especially if he is considering overtaking) then it is best to indicate. As a rule of thumb if you are not sure then it is best indicating.

Q : Do you have to do the reverse around the corner in 1 go or can you stop during it?

No. There is no stipulation that the reverse around the corner needs completed in 1 go. In fact at times it in necessary to stop in order to do good all round observation. More pupils pick up marks on the test during the reverse for poor observation than they do for the reverse itself. It’s completely acceptable to stop half way round to check the mirrors and blinds spots. Similarly it’s also fine to adjust the wing mirrors before hand, but just remember to fix them again once completed.

Q : If I stall on the test will I fail?

No, a stall is normally considered a Grade 1 fault so has no bearing on the test. There is no strict guideline on this and is at the discretion of the tester but normally 1 or 2 stalls are ignored and put down to nerves. After that the tester may deem there is a more underlying problem and start marking it as grade 2’s depending on if it is the problem of clutch or acceleration.

Q : Why does the car jump when I change gears?

The car will only jump if either the clutch is up too fast or the speed was wrong for the new gear. A common fault is changing down to a lower gear (such as 2nd) but failing to slow down adequately. This can be avoided by Braking before clutching down (BBC – Brake Before Clutch). By braking 1st you can get the speed right before carrying out the gear change and it should then go smoother.Change into 2nd gear at 25kmph/15mph.

It may also jump if the clutch is up too fast. It should take 3 seconds between the clutch being down and fully released. It should also be released at a steady, consistent speed.

Q : Do you always have to stop at a stop sign, even if you can see the way is clear?

Yes – You must stop.

Q : Am I more likely to pass the test in a driving school car than my own car?

Not necessarily. We advise pupils to do the test in the car they have had most practice in and are most comfortable driving. The myth that testers are more likely to pass someone who is in a driving school car is completely false.

Q : What is a pre-test?

A pre-test doesn’t differ very much from a standard lesson in that we will take you all around the test route and tell you everything you need to know to pass the test including reverse around corner, hill start, turnabout, hand signals and technical checks. We can also do a mock test in order to highlight where any faults lie and how near/far the pupil is from passing. However we only recommend this after we have corrected any faults.

Q : What is the marking system for the driving test?

If you make a fault it is marked 1, 2 or 3. A Grade 1 is a minor fault and will have no bearing on the test. You can have as many Grade 1 faults as you like. A Grade 2 is more serious and includes things like forgetting to indicate, not checking blind spots, driving in the wrong gear etc. You will fail if you get 9 or more Grade 2’s in total; 6 or more under 1 category such as observation or position; or 4 under the 1 heading such as observation moving off or position turning left. A Grade 3 is a serious fault such as mounting the kerb, going through a red light or not stopping at a stop sign. It will fail if you get 1 Grade 3.

Q : What are the most common reasons you see for people failing the driving test?

The 2 biggest reasons people fail the test is poor observation or bad reaction to hazards. For observation the tester cannot pass you unless he is 100% sure you are a safe driver. If you are moving off without checking blind spots or proceeding at junctions when your observation is obscured by hedges or parked cars then it is not safe and is unlikely to pass. If you come to a junction and are not 100% sure it is safe to proceed then you must stop and take a better look, using the peep and creep method if necessary.

A hazard is anything to make you change speed, course or direction. Likely hazards are speed bumps, pot holes, bin lorries, parked cars and cyclists. Once you spot a hazard slow down if you are not sure how to deal with it and it will give more time to decide how to act. Safety has to be your priority and factors to consider are who has the right of way, is it safe to proceed, the actions of others, where should I stop/what speed should I be doing and how may the hazard/situation develop. It’s all about anticipation. Good rivers react to potential hazards while poorer drivers react to hazards as they happen.

Q : Do you have to indicate during the turnabout?

No. You can if you like but the purpose of indicating is to give people advance warning of your intentions. If you have to indicate to someone then you probably shouldn’t be doing it in the 1st place. As far as the test is concerned whether you do or don’t isn’t marked upon and the same for the reverse around the corner.
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