The RAC and RAC Foundation, RoSPA, MCIA and IAM RoadSmart have all welcomed plans unveiled today by the DVSA (30 Dec) to improve driver and motorcycle training.
The first of two separate announcements includes plans to allow learner drivers to have driving lessons on motorways, with a driving instructor and in a car fitted with dual controls.
Motorways lessons will be voluntary and it will be up to the driving instructor to decide when the learner driver is sufficiently competent to have a motorway lesson.
The changes are designed to give learner drivers broader driving experience before taking their driving test, and training on how to join and leave the motorway, overtake and use lanes correctly.
Announcing the proposals, Andrew Jones, transport minister, said: “These changes will equip learners with a wider range of experience and greater skill set which will improve safety levels on our roads.”
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The casualty statistics tell us that motorways are our safest roads, but they can feel anything but safe to a newly qualified driver heading down the slip road for the first time to join a fast moving, often heavy, flow of traffic.
“Many are so intimidated by the motorway environment that they choose instead to use statistically more dangerous roads, so we welcome this move which will help new drivers get the training they need to use motorways safely.”
Simon Williams, RAC spokesman, added: “RAC research shows that a quarter of motorists feel uncomfortable driving on the motorway but hopefully by allowing learners to gain valuable experience prior to getting their full licences this will change and the overall level of confidence about driving on the motorway will improve.”
A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said: “Anything that will provide young drivers with more realistic training to prepare them for when they become independent drivers is good. We would also be in favour of measures that included a minimum number of hours of training.”
The DVSA and DfT have also jointly launched a consultation asking for views on proposals to improve motorcycle training.
The DVSA says the proposed changes aim to reduce casualties by making sure new riders are better prepared for the realities of riding on modern roads.
The proposed changes include: taking away (revoking) CBT certificates from riders who get six penalty points; considering whether learner riders should need to either pass a theory test before they take a CBT course, or as part of their course; and restricting riders who take their CBT course on an automatic motorcycle, to only riding automatics.
DVSA is also proposing that the CBT course syllabus is changed from five parts to four, focussing on: the aims of CBT and the importance of equipment; on-site training; motorcycling theory; and on-road practical riding.
Views are also sought on a proposal to introduce a training course to enable existing riders to upgrade their motorcycle licence, rather than having to take extra tests.
DVSA is considering changes to improve the way that instructors qualify to provide motorcycle training, increasing the range of checks that DVSA carries out on motorcycle training schools, and introducing a system for motorcycle training schools to be given recognition for consistently high standards.
Another proposal looks at options for replacing the existing paper-based training system with a digital service, in order to improve the quality of records of those who have taken CBT, and make the system more efficient.
Gareth Llewellyn, DVSA chief executive, said: “We want to modernise motorcycle training so that novice riders gain the skills and experience they need to help them and everyone else to stay safe on our roads.”
Karen Cole, director of safety and training for the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA), said: “We’re delighted to see DVSA has launched this consultation.
“We believe that the introduction of a new training course is positive and will encourage more riders to use the progressive licence route. We’re also supportive of the proposals to update the qualification arrangements for motorcycle instructors, as these will help the training industry.”
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, said: “These proposals close two obvious loopholes. A theory test should always be the first step for any motorised road user before they reach the road. The six penalty point approach also finally brings motorcycle users in line with the New Driver’s Act for car drivers.”
Both consultations run until 17 February 2017, with changes expected to come into effect during 2018.