Driving ambition: Ray gears up for lucky 13th test

A man who failed his driving test 12 times is not a lost cause, an instructor with Ireland’s top driving school said yesterday.

But Irish School of Motoring instructor Eric Wharton said Ray Heffernan must change several driving habits if he is to succeed on his 13th attempt.

“He’s not the worst driver I’ve ever seen,” Mr Wharton said.

“But he’s not at the standard to pass just yet. He needs at least seven lessons to get him to the required standard.”

Mr Wharton was speaking yesterday after assessing Ray’s driving during a 30-minute pre-test on the streets of Cork.

Ray, a 62-year-old retired plasterer from Mayfield, has been driving for 45 years and claims to have never caused an accident.

But he has been branded Ireland’s worst driver by the tabloid press — a label he describes as “hurtful” — after failing what is believed to be a record 12 driving tests in eight years.

Because of his repeated failures, regional supervisors have been drafted in to conduct the most recent tests.

Ray failed his 12th test in June after recording 26 faults.

And yesterday he stood over his claims that the State’s driving testing regime is unfair and that the system is out to get him.

But Mr Wharton said if the assessment had been a real driving test, Ray would have failed.

“Ray is an experienced driver but there are some technical things he needs to work on — certain things around observation, using the car mirrors, especially when changing lanes, and clutch control,” he said.

Ray accepted the verdict and said: “I got on very well with Eric. He’s stern but he’s an honest guy. The things he pointed out are minor things.”

Mr Wharton said if Ray takes the lessons, adopts a systematic approach to driving and approaches the next test with a positive attitude, there is no reason why he shouldn’t pass.

“There are no guarantees, but he’s learning nothing by doing the test over and over again,” said Mr Wharton.

However, Ray said he is still challenging the result of the last driving test through the courts.

He will await the outcome of the legal process before reapplying for his next test.


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