Start date confirmed for motorway driving lessons

13.43 | 1 March 2018 | | 7 comments

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.”


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    I accept that these drivers will use both dual c/ways and M-ways and their behaviour will no doubt be the same on both roads, but it’s more frantic and busier on the M-way and more lanes to be concentrating on (not forgetting the shoulder) and therefore greater potential for things to go wrong. The drivers I am referring to seem to adopt a different mindset when entering the M/ways – as another reader called them ‘..the 90mph Clarkson type idiots..’ They’ll never be on a proper racetrack, so the M-way will have to do.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (0) | Disagree (3)

    I can confirm with absolutely certainty that “crossing lanes one and two at 45 degrees” from the slip road to lane 2 or 3 of a NSL all-purpose dual carriageway does indeed happen.

    David Weston, Corby
    Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

    I think with regard to the blue sign compared to the white or green, as someone has asked, it’s the extra hidden message that the blue sign conveys to some i.e. if you consider your journey to be more important than anyone else’s, proceed immediately to lane number three, adopt a speed that your ego dictates and in any event not below 70 mph (remember your image) and stay there until your exit, crossing lanes one and two at 45 degrees to save time. It’s called ‘fast lane’ mentality and doesn’t seem to be as much of a threat on dual c/ways…it must be down to the colour of the sign.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (1) | Disagree (2)

    It will be interesting! This month is the 10th anniversary of a former CEO of the DSA (now DVSA) saying, ”Most instructors are probably rubbish” … Nothing much has changed, and God forbid those kind of people will be taking Learner drivers onto motorways to jostle with ’90mph Klarkson type idiots’.

    Nevertheless it is long, long, overdue, and it begs the question as to why the DfT and DVSA have NOT had the foresight to have a structured programme for Learners on Motorways since the 1950s / 60s. Not have the competence?

    Furthermore, who is going to supervise the programme? DVSA? With what/who? Most ADIs have just scraped a ‘pass’ to acquire their green badge, struggle to deliver little more than how to perform a 3 point turn or ‘left hand down a bit’ and so forth. They soon jump ship and work for DVSA!

    Part-time instructors who only do lessons between school runs, mostly mothers of course, and who have severely limited levels of experience, making them potentially dangerous supervisors when zooming along motorways at high speed.

    And, oh well, as I began, ”It will be interesting”!

    Russell Jones
    Agree (3) | Disagree (5)

    How would motorcyclists go on as they are on their own? Anyone thoughts on that on.

    Bob Craven, Lancs
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Without sounding odd, how does a blue sign instead of green or white make a road terrifying?

    I don’t get it. It’s not like all-purpose dual carriageways are significantly different from motorways, except say… perhaps being of a lesser quality* than a normal motorway?

    *discounting managed motorways from that comparison there

    David Weston, Corby
    Agree (16) | Disagree (1)

    It can be intimidating on the motorway for anyone anyway, so it would be a shock to the system the very first time one uses it. I would hope instructors would initially take the wheel on the motorway and talk the pupil through it with a running commentary, before the pupil does it.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (6) | Disagree (4)

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