Licence to thrill - make sure you have one before going abroad
Our Road Safety Authority expert gets his advice in early for those already planning a car holiday
They may seem a long way off right now bit but some of my friends have started talking about booking their summer holidays.
Some are planning a stay-cation. Others are not going to take a chance on the Irish weather. Instead they are heading off to where there is guaranteed sun.
I know one couple who are planning to fly with their three children to the south of France. A great camping site has been recommended to them and they plan to hire a car when they get there to travel around. They've never done this before. In previous years it's been holidays at home.
"If you are planning on hiring a car just make sure your driving licence is in date", I advised.
Needless to say my friend couldn't say for sure if his licence has expired or not so he has gone to get it sorted.
Since taking over responsibility for the driving licence system, from Motor Tax offices, the problem of last minute licence renewal applications, is just one of the many intricacies of the system that the Road Safety Authority has become all too familiar with.
Typically a driver will get in touch with us in a panic, either a couple of weeks or worst case scenario a few days before they are due to travel on their holidays. Their driving licence has expired and they need to renew it before they travel because they are hiring a car to tour around their destination.
The problem is that the new NDLS system requires you to attend in person at one of the centres to be validated to the new security standard. Then the licence needs to be produced off site for security purposes. So there is at least a five-day turnaround.
The last thing we want is for somebody's holiday to be spoiled, so that's why we are asking drivers to check the expiry date on their licences and learner permits.
There may be drivers who are unknowingly driving with expired licences right now, so they too need to check.
The NDLS normally sends out a notification to let drivers know their licence is about to expire. However, if the driver has moved or changed address and hasn't updated their details with us, they won't get a letter advising them to renew.
If your licence has already expired, go to any of the NDLS centres nationwide and renew it as soon as possible. To book an appointment with any of the centres, visit ndls.ie.
However, if your licence has expired for 10 years or more, you must start the application process again and take a driver theory test, mandatory driving lessons and a driving test.
If you are considering travelling abroad as a driver, motorcyclist, cyclist or pedestrian, it's a good idea to familiarise yourself with the rules of the road of the country you are visiting.
Some countries outside the European Economic Area (the member states of the EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) may require you to hold an International Driving Permit in addition to your Irish driving licence. Check this prior to departure with the Embassy or Consulate of the country concerned. Make sure you are properly insured for driving while overseas
Some practical tips when you get there include taking a break before you drive. So don't get into the car after a long flight. You will be tired and jet-lagged and the risk of falling asleep at the wheel is greater. Know the laws concerning seatbelt wearing and speeding and remember that although a level of alcohol while driving may be permitted in other countries, our advice is to never ever drink and drive.
This is even more important when you are driving in an unfamiliar country where the penalties for breaking the law could be very serious.
But all that is some way off yet. We will return to it nearer the time. In the meantime, check your licence.