Driving lesson

Ireland AM’s Derek Hartigan runs the business of Louth Virtual Driving School

Last Thursday, Ireland AM’s popular weatherman Derek Hartigan walked into Ireland’s only virtual driving school, the Drive Virtual Driving Academy in Dundalk, as he presented the weather forecast.

Rive Virtual Driving Academy founder Paul Brady was delighted to welcome Derek to the groundbreaking driving school he started last November in a unit in Williamson’s Mall.

Creating the virtual driving school was a longtime ambition for Paul as it was something he and his late wife Briege had been talking about for years, having seen virtual simulators being used to teach learner drivers in France.

After Briege died of cancer last year, Paul’s children, Niamh and Caoimhin, encouraged him to give up his job as a production manager in Dublin and make the couple’s dream come true.

The Drive Virtual Driving Academy logo is a steering wheel and a small blue butterfly in memory of Briege and his love of butterflies.

The company has grown steadily, as learner drivers get their first experience behind the wheel of one of three simulation cars that have been built by a company with 30 years of experience in the industry.

“I work a lot with the National Learning Network and two of their students were here for Derek’s visit on Thursday morning.”

The lessons are also popular with transition year students and dropouts.

Paul is thrilled with the adoption by local schools and hopes that eventually the Road Safety Authority will give people credit for taking virtual driving lessons as it provides a safe learning environment with the added benefit of being carbon neutral.

Following Derek Hardigan’s presentation from Drive Virtual Driving Academy Irish Weather AM, Paul says he received many inquiries from across the country.

“Shortly after the show aired, I received a phone call from a 77-year-old lady from Swords who had seen it and wanted me to teach her two daughters, who have the fifties, and they come down on Saturday for their first lesson.

“I also have bookings from people from Leitrim, Cork and Dublin as well as all of Louth within walking distance of coverage.”