Essential Driver Training (EDT) – The background

The Facts

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has announced today Thursday 31st March 2011, that the new Essential Driver Training (EDT) programme, which requires learner drivers to take compulsory driving lessons for category B vehicles (cars and light vans), will be introduced on Monday 4th April.

EDT is one of a range of measures announced by the RSA last September as part of a new Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system which will enhance the way drivers are trained, tested and licensed in Ireland. Any person getting their first learner permit with a start date on or after 4th April 2011 must complete a minimum 12 hours of Essential Driver Training, with an RSA registered Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) before they can sit their driving test. Typically the 12 EDT lessons will be spread over six months and be supported by practice and tuition as required.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Mr. Leo Varadkar welcomed the introduction of EDT saying “The introduction of Essential Driver Training (EDT) on Monday 4th April is probably the most significant development to the way we train our learner drivers since the introduction of the driving test in 1964. One of the key measures in the Government’s Road Safety Strategy 2007 to 2012, to tackle death and injury on our roads, is the introduction of a Graduated Driving Licensing system and EDT forms a core part of this life saving initiative. The EDT programme is designed to protect inexperienced learner drivers while they are learning to drive and to support them as they develop the skills, confidence and appropriate behaviour to share the road safely with others.”

Mr Noel Brett, CEO of the Road Safety Authority (RSA) said, “The programme consists of 12 one hour lessons that are linked to 12 specific ‘high risk’ road safety issues and will start the learner driver off on the road to becoming a better, safer driver. The 12 lessons on their own will not be sufficient to become a safe driver. Applying the feedback of your instructor, getting lots of practice, studying the recommended reading are all vital. Learners may also wish to discuss the need for additional driving lessons with their ADI – however this is something that should be agreed by both parties.”

Cathy Bacon, Chairperson of the Irish Driving Instructors Association (IDIA) – welcomed the introduction of EDT, as it welcomes all programs intended to reduce death and injury on our roads. “The programme will need to be tried and tested and the IDIA are pleased that there is a commitment by the RSA to a review of it in 18 months time.”

“Our highly trained and experienced members will fully contribute to the scheme in order to see that the important skills which are absolutely necessary for safe driving are passed to the learner driver. We will be working with our members to ensure a smooth introduction of EDT” she added.

In addition to the mandatory lessons with an ADI the learner driver should also undertake ongoing practice with their Sponsor*. This practice is a vital part of the learning process, and the role of the Sponsor is an essential part of the learning to drive process. Their role is to accompany and support the learner driver as they practise and build on the skills they have learned in their lessons with the ADI. Therefore it is essential that the learner driver chooses a person with whom they feel comfortable and who has had their full driver’s licence for a minimum of two years and has lots of driving experience. The RSA recommends that the learner driver practises the skills learned in each compulsory EDT lesson with their Sponsor for at least three hours before their next lesson.

Mr Brett advised learner drivers not to underestimate the role they play during the learning to drive process. “One of the most important decisions you will make as you consider learning to drive is who to choose as your Sponsor. This is a hugely important role and so it is vital that this is a person you feel comfortable with and who demonstrates safe driving behaviour that you can learn from. This might be a parent, uncle or sibling, but it must be someone who can make the commitment to contribute their time to helping you to become a safe and competent driver. EDT lessons on their own are not sufficient – it is your responsibility to continue to practise between lessons so that you can build on the skills you have learned with your ADI. This is a critical part of the learning to drive process and will help you to become a lifelong safe driver.”

Mr Brett also highlighted the important role that parents and guardians have during EDT. “Some parents may have concerns about paying for EDT lessons or that they won’t have the time to support their young adult as they learn to drive. We recommend that lessons be taken over a six month period with one lesson at a similar cost to half a tank of petrol. In addition the insurance industry will be announcing a special offers and discounts for learner drivers taking EDT lessons. So my advice to parents is not to view this as a cost but an investment in your son or daughter’s safety on the roads.”

Niall Doyle, Corporate Affairs Manager with the Irish Insurance Federation warmly welcomed the new initiative from the RSA. “Driving is an essential life skill in the 21st Century and it is very appropriate that our children and young adults receive appropriate driver training. It is also hugely beneficial that a significant part of this training will be under the guidance of a Sponsor (father or mother) who will have a significant vested interest in seeing this training is successful. This training (EDT) should reduce the number of collisions, injuries and fatalities on Irish roads and as a consequence help keep the cost of motor insurance down.”

17-24 year olds are one of the highest risk groups on Irish roads and are three times more likely to be killed in a collision than the rest of the population. Furthermore, research shows that young drivers are most vulnerable in the six to twelve month period immediately after getting their licence.

For further information on EDT and a full list of the 1,883 RSA registered ADIs, visit

The RSA has produced a range of literature for first time learner permit holders so they can learn more about EDT. An information booklet or flyer on EDT will shortly be available in Driver Theory Test Centres, Motor Tax Offices or local Garda stations and can also be downloaded from An Information campaign to highlight the new change is also being run from today 31st March.