If you thought you were a good driver, get ready for some nasty surprises ...
Our new series cuts to the chase on our driving habits and comes up with some startling findings
We have more than two million cars on our roads. Many of us spend up to two hours a day behind the wheel. If we're spending so much time driving, why are some of us so bad at it?
Well, a new four-part series, sponsored by the Road Safety Authority, is about to air on RTE that attempts to answer this question. The series is called 'How's Your Driving?'
In each episode we see actor and TV presenter Simon Delaney examine Ireland's driving habits, both good and bad, while real Irish drivers take on a series of test track challenges.
The average Irish motorist clocks up about 15,000km a year. We are not the worst drivers in Europe, but we're by no means the best. 'How's Your Driving? takes a frank and honest look at our motoring abilities.
Over four episodes, a cross-section of Irish drivers are put through their paces on a test track where the programme makers replicate the main causes of crashes.
Under real-road conditions, the drivers experience first-hand how factors like alcohol, drugs, speeding, using a mobile phone and driving on unsafe tyres affect their driving.
They also carry out everyday driving challenges while trying to avoid other vehicles, obstacles and cardboard pedestrians.
The programme tests their motoring skills both under and over the legal drink-driving limit.
The participants discover what it's like to try and send a text or make a call while coping with daily driving challenges.
They see first-hand how small increases in speed affect their ability to brake in an emergency or simply avoid everyday hazards.
And they get to experience what a lack of grip is like when they take to our wet slalom track on both under-inflated and bald tyres.
The drivers taking part in the challenges find the experiences sobering, in some cases challenging their preconceived beliefs.
The first episode deals with alcohol and drugs. In it we see 22-year-old Kevin making a potential fatal driving decision after just two pints, and 18-year-old Jack trying to complete the track challenge under the simulated influence of drugs.
Episode two focuses on speeding. We witness how an increase in speed has a disastrous effect on our two drivers' braking abilities.
In episode three, Simon Delaney and the test track volunteers discover that being on the mobile is simply not compatible with driving.
Then, in the final episode, unsafe vehicles come under the microscope. Drivers, Adam and Aoife discover how bald and soft tyres affect their driving abilities and are surprised when the tests don't go as planned.
The show also goes under the bonnet to reveal fatal hidden dangers we should all be aware of.
I have to confess, I simply wasn't prepared for the results of this final episode. To see the results of the tasks performed on under-inflated and bald tyres was truly shocking. I've written in the past that we don't take tyre safety seriously enough. Our analysis of forensic garda investigations shows defective tyres are a contributory factor in one in ten fatal crashes.
Having seen the causes, our test drivers then come face-to-face with the long-lasting effects of dangerous driving habits when they sit down with some of the people whose lives have been devastated by fatal collisions on Irish roads.
• How's Your Driving? started on February 12 on RTE1 at 8.30pm. It runs for four weeks.