Learner drivers to be allowed on motorways for the first time from June

Learner drivers

The government has confirmed learner drivers will be allowed on motorways from June this year. It’s one of the biggest single changes to the process of learning to drive since the driving test was introduced in 1935.

Overwhelming approval during a government consultation led to the green light. Learners will now be able to drive legally on motorways from June 4, 2018. The Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) says this will allow unqualified drivers to get a broader experience of driving before taking their test. They will get practical training on joining, leaving and driving on motorways. They will also be able to practice driving at higher speeds.This will help them to understand how the theory they learn works in reality. Read on to find out more.

Will this apply to all learner drivers?

No. Learners won’t just be able to take to motorways as they please. They will have to be in a dual-control car that is displaying L plates. They must also be accompanied by an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI).

What is behind the law change?

Currently, the first experience many drivers had of going faster than 60mph on a multi-carriageway road was once they’d passed their test. They may have been on their own and it may have proved a daunting environment for an inexperienced driver. According to the Driving Instructors’ Association (DIA) some newly qualified drivers even avoid motorways because they find them so scary.

Chief executive of the DIA, Carly Brookfield added: “The weight of driver education research points to the fact that in novice drivers, increased exposure to driving in all contexts and environments increases essential experience and knowledge – and therefore decreases risk. Allowing learners to build that vital experience on motorways in the pre-test period will help them better manage the task and risk of driving on high speed roads once licenced.”

Why the change?

The government consulted learner drivers, road safety experts and driver training bodies such as the DIA. The majority were in favour of a change. They claimed it would help prepare drivers properly for passing their test.

DVSA chief executive Gareth Llewellyn said: “By allowing learners to have lessons on motorways, we are modernising driver training and making sure learners get the skills and experience they need to drive on fast, busy roads.”

A recent survey conducted by the DIA found many young drivers lack confidence on motorways. It concluded that 53 per cent feared pressure from other vehicles; 41 per cent found joining motorways and changing lanes daunting; and 63 per cent were concerned about breaking down.

Read our expert’s safety tips on what to do if you break down

Should drivers be worried?

Don’t be concerned that L-plated cars doing 30mph will inundate our motorways. Carly Brookfield said: “The driving public should have no fear that learners will just be unleashed on our busy motorway network with just mum and dad in their normal car the moment they get their provisional licence. Professional instructors will only take pupils onto the motorway network when they feel the learner is ready to tackle that element of driving. All training will be done under the expert supervision of an experienced, fully qualified and licenced instructor.”

14 comments on “Learner drivers to be allowed on motorways for the first time from June

  1. trevorjmallett March 7, 2018 11:07 am

    Learner drivers should have to pass a compency test before going on the motorways,otherwise they will cause accidents

    • ultimate blue April 16, 2018 10:28 am

      A lot of drivers who have passed their test should not be om motorways . a serious problem is people hogging the center lane like frifgtened rabbits

    • Graham Jessop April 16, 2018 9:35 pm

      And why will they cause accidents?

  2. Steve Michelle March 7, 2018 9:39 pm

    This can only be a good thing. At least this way, a learner driver will have an instructor alongside, so in the event of something going wrong, the instructor has dual controlls. An instructor will also make the decision as to when the learner is ready to go on a motorway. Far better than when drivers passed their test, and were alone in controll of the car for the first time on a motorway.

    • Colin Dawson April 16, 2018 12:05 pm

      That’s the theory. I can see non qualified instructors using it as a reason to use the motorways. In fact I’m sure I’ve already seen it on a number of occasions by the way the cars were being driven and the way the passenger was talking and gesticulating

  3. Derek Smith April 13, 2018 5:39 am

    As an ex ADI I fully support this change and feel that there is very little difference to driving on a dual carriageway . So once a pupil has driven several times at 70mph that would be the time to take them on motorways to boost their confidence.

  4. C33Jay April 13, 2018 7:02 pm

    I passed a pass plus course straight after passing my test which included motorway, night driving, navigation (without a sat nav!) and more – admittedly to get cheaper insurance… However, it really gave me a good insight that perhaps could become mandatory.

  5. Susan April 13, 2018 9:56 pm

    It should also help to improve the standard of driving on motorways. The standard is very poor at the moment particularly with regard to the two outer overtaking lanes.

  6. David April 14, 2018 10:39 am

    as a driver for over 50 years it is about time that learner drivers were given Motorway experience before being let out on the roads on their own.

  7. Ian Barber April 14, 2018 7:27 pm

    going to be interesting here in Dorset, one of the few Counties without a motorway, lessons will have to be made longer1

  8. Mandy Simpkin April 15, 2018 11:10 am

    A long time coming, well overdue but glad it is now happening, too many drivers do not know how to drive on a motorway!

  9. Dave Jones April 15, 2018 11:38 am

    Can one assume that the government will be building new motorways in areas such as Northern Scotland and West Wales in order to accommodate these learner drivers? Logistics dictate that learners living a great distance from motorways will be unfairly disadvantaged.

  10. MR ALAN HAGUE April 16, 2018 10:24 pm

    Everyone has to learn and yes.,preferably with a qualified instructor alongside, using a dual controlled car..However I would be happier if the leaner passed the test in the usual way and then had to drive for say 6 months before going on to motorways ,showing a green L plate. for say 4 more weeks .I use the motorways almost everyday and believe me there are many dangerous drivers on there and a few weeks solo driving would be advantageous

  11. Kim April 23, 2018 7:50 am

    I would like to see the learners restricted to 2 lanes only. I passed my test way back in 1983 & am still nervous when motorway driving. I can see problems involving learners & big lorries in queues in the slowest lane in overtaking manoeuvres. Foreign drivers cause enough problems as it is without learners as well.I would prefer them to have passed some form of test first & then have more lessons specifically involving motorways before being granted a full licence.

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