One month to go: Learner drivers to be granted motorway use

Smart motorways

Posted by Media Team on 04 May 2018

It’s officially one month to go until learner drivers will be able to choose to take voluntary driving lessons on motorways in England, Scotland and Wales in a progressive shift by the government to make sure drivers know how to use motorways safely.

From 4th June 2018, the law will be modified to allow driving instructors to assist students who are at a ‘test-ready’ level on motorways. Learner drivers will need to be accompanied by an Approved Driving Instructor and be driving a car fitted with dual controls.

Crispin Moger, CEO for Marmalade – the leading provider of cars and insurance for young drivers – comments: “Our annual Census* revealed that motorway driving was the top ‘real life’ scenario that learner drivers (77%) wanted to experience, so allowing them access in a supportive environment is an encouraging shift by the government.

“I believe there is more that can be done in order to showcase a broader, realistic and practical perception of driving. For example in addition to motorway driving, night time (71%) and rush hour (60%) driving within lessons both featured as high priorities for learner drivers too. These are everyday occurrences for most road users so it is important learner drivers are armed with as much experience and confidence as possible before they are behind the wheel as a qualified driver.”

Despite the UK automotive infrastructure consisting of 50 motorways, learner drivers have been forbidden from experiencing them through their training process. Currently, new drivers must partake in the Pass Plus scheme after passing their driving test to experience the motorway with the comfort of an instructor for a minimum of six hours.

The Department for Transport has received wide support from both learner drivers and driving instructors for the change next month. Amanda Green, an Approved Driving Instructor based in St. Albans and Learner Driver Week’s Driving Instructor of the Year 2017, says: “So many people avoid driving on the motorway once they pass their test as it can be a frightening experience.

“Teaching learner drivers safely on the motorways is a good idea in principle but it is a very big jump from normal driving lessons. A motorway lesson in a one hour slot will be difficult and therefore will probably need to be offered within a two hour slot. I would only take my pupils on a motorway if I felt they were able to deal competently with dual carriageways and were capable of quicker reaction times.”

Crispin concludes: “Young drivers (under 25’s) are statistically more likely to be killed or seriously injured compared to older drivers and one of the main reasons for that is lack of experience. Despite motorways statistically being the UK’s safest roads, they can be a daunting and complex experience, even for the more qualified driver. This development is extremely encouraging for learner drivers to practice driving at higher speeds, apply their theoretical knowledge and obtain the crucial knowledge and confidence needed for optimum safety when driving.”

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