Getting a driving license in Ireland has been a point of anxiety since moving to Ireland. The stress mainly from the cost of lessons and also the long wait time to get a driving test schedule. The stress is wor if you have to re-sit for the driving test where we cannot track the wait times. The long wait time started during pandemic where tests were cancelled and more precautions taken by testers. It is 3 years after the pandemic started and the wait times hardly improved.
Ireland allows us to drive on our Malaysia license for up to a year. This may sound like a long time but it is not. Also to note that we cannot use the Malaysia license once we get the Irish Learner permit. Getting the driving license in time within the limits of the law has been frustrating. We need to drive for our weekly grocery shopping and also to fetch the kids places.
As I embark on the journey, I keep hearing people failing the test. Most of the time, people fail because they react wrongly to a situation on the road. Someone from Malaysia failed because she did not avoid a parked truck correctly. Another colleague failed because he almost run into a car in a crossroad. The tests are done in real traffic and we are expected to catch up to speed limit. No such thing as going around on second gear like in Malaysia. So luck does play a bit into the outcome of the test, it is hard to predict how the other people will behave on the road.
Citizen’s information have the steps to get a driving license in Ireland. Need to pass the test to get the learner permit, or what we call “L License”. Unlike Malaysia, there is no need to sit for a day long class. I paid for an app in our phone that provides simulate tests. Once I got a consistent passing score on the app, I made an appointment to sit for the computerised test. We took about one month to learn the highway code and sit for the test. Once I passed the test, I went to NDLS to apply for the learner’s permit, or L License.
I was able to apply for reduced EDT since I had a valid driving license from our home country. The reduced EDT allows me to take 6 lessons instead of 12 before applying for the driving test.
After the 6 driving lessons (each lesson about 1 hour long) I applied for the driving exam and waited for the invitation. Everyone is put in a waiting list and when it’s your turn, an invitation will be sent to you. That invitation allows you to select a date and time to take the exam. At the time of writing, some test centers have a 8 month wait time for the invitation.
I had my test on a Friday morning before the long weekend. I went through the first part of the test, the rules of the road, pretty fast with the tester. Was able to answer all the signs he pointed out and also the questions he asked. It started to drizzle as we went to the car, so we skipped the engine checks. The tester took me on a route that I’ve never been before. I spent about 90% of the time in housing estate that has a 30Km/h speed limit.
He made me do a lot of left turns into narrow roads with obstacles like parked bus just as I turn into the junction. They do this to test for hazard prediction and we are taught to look into the junction before turning. He took me to a short road for turnabout test. There were 3 other cars taking turns to do the turnabout there. I had to wait for my turn and after the turnabout, had to wait for them to complete their second turnabout.
When I was doing my reverse around the corner, I lost sight of the curb. It is a miracle that I did not go up the curb or failed because I was too far from the curb. I felt the tester was really taking his time with me. When we turned into a main road, there were cars parked on my side of the road and a bus waiting for lights to turn green. I was stuck so I decided to wait it out while “making an effort” to overtake the parked car.
Was relieved when we reached back to the test center and he told me that I passed. I was even more surprised that I had only scored a few points in the test. Tester marked me for weaving in and out of parked cars where I could just keep to the center of the road. I think I was really lucky. The tester was quite the whole trip other than to give directions. I commented that he took me to very difficult places. Thinking on the bus hold up, he said it was not difficult, just a lot of “eejits” on the road today. Wife said maybe his mind was thinking of the long weekends. I think my driving was comfortable that he did not pick on the small issues.
Getting the driving license completes my transition to Ireland. Back in Malaysia, we drive a lot and I also have a full B motorcycle license. In Red Crescent Society, I also get to drive the ambulance once in a while. I feel there is something missing when I do not have a license here to drive.