Driving School Ireland,
Phone 071 9162311 or 087 6688797
Good Driving Practice
This section describes how to do the most common driving manoeuvres safely and with consideration for other road users. It focuses on:
- Moving Off
- Position on the Road
- Changing traffic lanes
- Slowing Down - Stopping
- Driving at Night
- Using a Horn
- Before you turn on your engine, check that:
- your rear view mirrors are clean and properly adjusted,
- all doors, the bonnet and the boot are closed,
- all safety belts (yours and those of your front-seat and back-seat passengers) are fastened, and
- your seat and headrest are properly adjusted.
- When you are ready to move off, signal your intention to move out into traffic.
- When moving off from the kerb you must give way to other traffic and pedestrians.
- When the way is clear, move out and adjust your speed to that of the normal flow of traffic.
- Always look in your mirror but remember that there are blind spots, so always check over your shoulders as well. Traffic and pedestrians may be coming up beside your vehicle. When moving off from a stationary position check your blind spots by looking around you.
Make sure you drive your vehicle far enough to the left to allow traffic to safely pass or overtake on the right but not so far to the left that you are driving on a cycle lane or blocking or endangering cyclists or pedestrians.
What to do if you need to change your position
- If you are overtaking, turning right or passing pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders or other road users or parked vehicles, make sure it is safe to do so.
- Always check in your mirror for any vehicles coming up on your right or overtaking from behind, and don't forget to check your blind spots.
- Give a clear signal to warn traffic in good time of your intentions and proceed.
Taking care with buses and pedestrians
You should allow signalling buses back into the stream of traffic after they let passengers on and off. Be especially careful of pedestrians getting on and off buses and of children near schools, and when near schools always be prepared to stop.
Taking care with cyclists
If you are at a junction where there is an advanced stop line for cyclists, you should allow cyclists to move off ahead of you.
When turning left, all drivers, especially drivers of heavy goods vehicles, must watch out for cyclists and motorcyclists going ahead or turning.
On left turns, watch out for cyclists and mopeds close to the kerb in front of you or coming up on your left. Do not overtake a cyclist as you approach a junction if you are turning left; the cyclist might be continuing straight ahead.
You should give extra space when overtaking a cyclist, as they may need to avoid uneven road surfaces and obstacles. This is particularly important on wet or windy days.
Don't move from one traffic lane to another without good reason.
You must give way to traffic already in the lane into which you are moving.
How to change lanes safely
- If you have good reason to change lanes, use your mirrors and check in plenty of time to ensure that the way is clear. To check your blind spot when travelling at speed, take a quick sideways glance to check the position of a vehicle that may have disappeared from your view in the mirror.
- Signal your intention and change lane when it is clear and safe to do so.
- When in a lane or approaching a junction, obey any road signs or markings (usually arrows) indicating the direction that traffic in those lanes must take.
Only overtake if it is safe for you and other traffic. Be particularly careful of features that may hinder your view of the road ahead, such as hills, dips, bends, bridges, roads narrowing or pedestrian crossings. Pay attention to the rules on road signs or markings (continuous, broken, single, double white lines) covered in Section 6.
How to overtake safely
- Make sure the road ahead is clear so you have enough distance to allow you to overtake and get back to your own side of the road without forcing any other road user to move to avoid you.
- Never directly follow another overtaking vehicle.
- Give way to faster traffic already overtaking from behind.
- Before overtaking check that the way is clear, check in your mirror and blind spots to ensure another vehicle is not approaching from behind. Give your signal in good time, move out when it is safe to do so, accelerate and overtake with the minimum of delay.
- When you are well past, check the mirror, signal and gradually move in again making sure not to cut across the vehicle you have passed.
- Take extra care when overtaking a vehicle displaying a 'LONG VEHICLE' sign. This means that the vehicle is at least 13 metres long and you will need extra road length to pass it and safely return to the left-hand side of the road.
- You must not break the speed limit, even when overtaking.
You must normally overtake on the right. However, you are allowed to overtake on the left in the situations listed below.
You may overtake on the left when:_
- You want to go straight ahead when the driver in front of you has moved out and signalled that they intend to turn right.
- You have signalled that you intend to turn left.
- Traffic in both lanes is moving slowly and traffic in the left-hand lane is moving more quickly than the traffic in the right-hand lane.
You must not overtake when
- You are at or near a pelican crossing, zebra crossing or at pedestrian signals.
- A traffic sign or road marking prohibits it.
- You are approaching a junction.
- You are on the approach to a corner, bend, dip in the road, hump-back bridge, brow of a hill or on a narrow road.
- You are in the left-hand lane of a dual carriageway or motorway when traffic is moving at normal speed.
What to do when somebody overtakes you
- Continue at the same pace.
- Keep as near to the left as is safe to do so.
- Do not accelerate.
- Be alert in case the overtaking vehicle suddenly pulls back in front of you.
How to reverse safely
- Check for nearby pedestrians and traffic by looking carefully all around, in front of and behind you, over both your shoulders and in your mirrors.
- Take special care where small children may be gathered, such as schools, playgrounds, residential roads, car parks or your own driveway.
- If your view is restricted, ask for help when reversing.
- Give way to other traffic or pedestrians.
- When reversing from a major road onto a minor road, wait until it is safe, reverse slowly far enough into the side road to allow you to take up the correct position on the left-hand side when rejoining the major road.
- Take extra care when reversing in darkness.
- If you are in doubt get out of your vehicle and check the area.
- You must not reverse from a minor road onto a major road as it is unsafe to do so.
You should make a U-turn only when traffic conditions make it completely safe to do so.
- Check there are no signs or road markings prohibiting a U-turn, for example a continuous centre white line.
- Check that the road is not one way.
- Look for a safe place, where you can see clearly in all directions.
- Give way to all other road users.
- Check carefully for cyclists and motorcyclists.
- Do not delay or prevent pedestrians from crossing safely.
- Make sure there is sufficient room to complete your manoeuvre safely and smoothly.
(See Section 9 for rules/guidelines on turning)
- Check in your mirror to make sure you can slow down and stop safely.
- Signal your intention to change course and pull in.
- Signal your intention to slow down either through the brake lights or by moving your right arm up and down outside your vehicle window (shown below) if you think your brake lights might not be working.
- Use a traffic lay-by if one is provided or pull in and stop close to the lefthand edge of the road.
If you are towing another vehicle or a trailer (including a boat trailer or a caravan) remember the following points.
- Make sure the tow bar or other towing device is strong enough and attached securely so that it does not break or become loose when used.
- Make sure the safety breakaway cable is in place and secured.
- Do not allow a distance of more than 4.5 metres (about 15 feet) between the vehicles or the vehicle and the trailer.
- If more than 1.5 metres separates the vehicles, use some warning device such as a white flag of at least 30 square centimetres to draw attention to the tow bar.
- If towing a vehicle that has its own steering gear, make sure somebody remains in it to take charge of the steering.
- If towing a vehicle the person who steers it must hold a licence to drive the same category of vehicle.
- Make sure a trailer is fitted with brakes if it has a gross vehicle weight of more than 750kg or is more than half the laden weight of the drawing vehicle (whichever is lower).
- A combination of vehicles or an articulated vehicle more than 13 metres long must display a 'LONG VEHICLE' sign or signs on the back of the last trailer.
- Make sure you mark any loads sticking out more than 1 metre to the back of the trailer with a red flag or marker board during the day. If you are towing this type of load at night, mark it with a red reflector and red lights.
- If the load is sticking out to the side and you are towing it at night, mark it with a light or lights showing a white light to the front and a red lights to the back.
Make sure your lights, indicators, reflectors and number plate lighting are clean and in good working order so that you can see clearly and be seen at all times. A clean windscreen is also important when driving at night.
Drive at a speed that allows you to stop within the distance covered by your lights. Assuming good driving conditions on an unlit road, the headlights of a typical car let you see for about 100 metres. Dipped lights will let you see for about 30 metres and a car travelling at 100km/h will cover this distance in approximately a second.
Keep your headlights adjusted properly. If they are out of line, they may dazzle oncoming traffic, even when dipped.
Even with the best headlights, you can see less at night than during the day. Pedestrians and unlit bicycles are extremely difficult to see in the dark, particularly if you have to deal with the glare of oncoming lights.
When to use headlights
If conditions require you to use headlights to drive safely, you must use them. Use dipped headlights at night or main beam headlights as appropriate. When in doubt, turn them on. Make sure that the red lights and number plate lighting at the back of your vehicle are working.
- Use dipped headlights:
- just after the beginning (dusk) and before the end (dawn) of lightingup hours,
- as long as they are needed to let you see clearly,
- when stopped in traffic,
- when meeting other traffic,
- in built-up areas where there is good street lighting,
- on continuously lit roads outside built-up areas,
- when following behind another vehicle,
- where there is dense fog, falling snow or heavy rain,
- when daylight is fading, and
- generally to avoid inconveniencing other traffic.
It is good practice to use dipped headlights or dim/dip lights, where fitted, instead of only sidelights in built-up areas where there is good street lighting.
- Use main beam headlights in situations, places and times outside of those listed above.
- Use fog lights only during dense fog and falling snow. You must turn them off at all other times.
What to do if you are dazzled by another vehicle's headlights
- Slow down and stop if necessary.
- Always watch for pedestrians or cyclists on your side of the road.
- If the dazzle is from an oncoming vehicle, avoid it by looking towards the verge (edge of your side of the road) until the vehicle has passed. If the dazzle is from a vehicle behind you and reflected in your mirror, operate the night-driving mode on the mirror.
Driving carefully behind other vehicles
Section 8 covers the importance of keeping a safe distance behind vehicles in front of you. In particular, don't drive on the tail lights of the vehicle in front. It gives a false sense of security and may lure you into driving too close or too fast, or both.
Only use a horn to:
- warn other road users of on-coming danger, or
- make them aware of your presence for safety reasons when reasonably necessary.
Remember, the horn does not give you the right of way.
Do not use a horn in a built-up area between 23.30hrs and 07.00hrs unless there is a traffic emergency.