Learner drivers will be able to take motorway driving lessons from 4 June, the Government has confirmed.
First announced in August 2017, the DVSA hopes the move will provide a broader range of ‘real life experiences’ and better prepare learners for independent driving when they pass their test.
The announcement has been welcomed by both Road Safety GB and IAM RoadSmart.
At present, drivers can only have motorway lessons after they have passed their driving test.
Under the new rules, learners will be allowed on motorways when accompanied by an approved driving instructor in a dual control car.
Any motorway lessons will be voluntary, with the driving instructor responsible for deciding whether the learner driver is sufficiently competent.
The DfT consulted on the changes last year and received ‘wide support from both learner drivers and approved driving instructors’.
The DfT has also urged drivers who come across learners on the motorway – and on any road – to ‘be patient’, as ‘they may not be so skilful at anticipating and responding to events’.
Steve Horton, Road Safety GB director of communications, said: “It’s important to remember that motorways are overall the safest roads by virtue of the lower number of serious and fatal crashes on them compared to, say, rural A roads.
“However, the techniques and skills required to use them safely are somewhat different to those we use on other roads – for eample joining and leaving a high speed road, separation distances at higher speeds and the basic fact that situations develop so much more quickly. Therefore any help that novice drivers can get to understand and master such techniques is a good thing.
“In some areas of the country learner drivers may not have it so easy to find and use a motorway, but where this is possible there is no doubt it will enhance novice drivers’ development.
“While the focus here is on the benefits to learner drivers, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact more experienced drivers will be sharing the motorways with learners.
“There is an important job to be done to prepare more experienced drivers of motorways to expect to see learners so that they can appreciate they may have to be more patient and might experience some unexpected behaviour, but the payback should eventually be a better motorway driving experience for all.”
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “It has never made sense to us that new drivers on our most important roads learned how to use them by trial and potentially fatal error.
“The Government’s insistence on the use of approved instructors and dual controlled cars is a welcome safeguard that will ensure consistent levels of training and a proper phased introduction to motorway driving skills.
“Delays and injuries caused by driver error blight our motorways and with new systems such as smart motorway being widely introduced, it is vital that the level of knowledge and skill among motorways users is improved to keep our key economic routes flowing.”