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.
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.”