From today (4 June), learner drivers can take motorway driving lessons in a law change intended to improve road safety.
Any motorway lessons learner drivers take will be voluntary and must be with an approved driving instructor in a car with dual-controls displaying L plates.
However, motorway driving is not being added to the driving test as part of this change, and the change in law does not apply to learner motorcyclists.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) says driving instructors will only take learner drivers on the motorway when they have ‘the right skills and experience to drive in a high-speed environment’.
Jesse Norman, road safety minister, said: “Road collisions remain the second biggest killer of young people.
“Allowing learner drivers to have motorway lessons with a qualified road safety expert will help more young drivers to gain the skills and experience they need to drive safely on motorways.”
The DVSA says some newly qualified drivers avoid driving on motorways because they lack confidence, which means they spend more time on ‘challenging’ rural roads where, in 2015, 80% of all young driver deaths happened.
The Government consulted on plans to allow learner drivers to have motorway lessons between December 2016 and February 2017, and received almost 3,000 responses. Click here to see the Government response to the consultation.
Mark Winn, DVSA chief driving examiner, said: “Allowing learner drivers to have motorway lessons was supported by 80% of people who gave their feedback on this change, with the public recognising the importance of developing these skills in a controlled environment.
“I’m delighted that a new generation of drivers can now drive on the motorway to gain valuable experience, including overtaking safely and lane discipline.”
The move to allow learner drivers onto motorways has received support from a number of road safety stakeholders including Highways England, Road Safety GB, the Scottish Government, the AA and RAC.
Steve Horton, director of communications at Road Safety GB said: “Many newly qualified drivers fear using our motorways and yet they are statistically the safest roads we have.
“Giving learners the opportunity to experience motorway driving under the controlled conditions of an approved driving instructor in a dual controlled car will help many to become more familiar with this type of driving and better prepare them for future safer road use.
“With this guidance leading to developing experience, new drivers will be far better prepared to drive on motorways rather than being left to work it out for themselves in real word situations.”
DVSA has also produced an ebook about motorway driving with additional advice for all drivers.