Learner drivers will be allowed to have driving lessons on motorways under plans announced by Mike Penning, road safety minister, which will come into force next year (Telegraph).
The change would enable learner drivers to undergo training on a motorway but only if accompanied by a qualified driving instructor. It is intended to end the current situation in which young drivers can be confronted with traffic driving at speeds of 70 mph or above without any preparation.
The change, however, will not be made compulsory because of the difficulties learner drivers in remote areas of the country would face in finding a motorway within a reasonable distance of where they lived.
The initiative reflects growing ministerial concern that the current testing regime does not prepare drivers for life behind the wheel.
Mike Penning said: “Are we teaching young drivers to pass a test or are we giving them the skills to enjoy life on the road?”
In a further change Mr Penning plans to ban trainee driving instructors giving lessons unless they themselves are supervised by a fully qualified colleague.
Robert Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), said: “It is a good thing in principle, but the devil is in the detail. Going on a motorway is one of the things newly qualified drivers say frightens them.
“Tightening the rules on driving instructors is very sensible and will improve consumer confidence in the driving instructor regime.”
Andrew Howard, the AA’s head of road safety, said: “This is good news. It will end the ludicrous situation where people can live near a network of motorways and pass their test without ever having been on one.
“Toughening the rules on driving instructors is also to be welcomed. At the moment it is possible to be taught by a trainee, without knowing that when you booked the lesson – but you still have to pay the same price.”
Simon Best, IAM chief executive, said: “This change will mean that properly supervised young drivers can learn how to drive on a motorway with somebody beside them. Motorways are, after all, our safest roads.
“As part of the changes to the test, we would also like to see more training for learners on rural roads – our most dangerous roads.”
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