From this week, learner drivers can take motorway driving lessons in a law change that will help to improve road safety.
Any motorway lessons learner drivers take will be voluntary, but they 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.
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.
Road Safety Minister, Jesse Norman, said:
“Britain’s roads are among the safest in the world, but 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.”
Statistics show that newly-qualified drivers are most vulnerable in the first 6 months after passing their driving test. Some avoid driving on motorways because they lack confidence, which means they spend more time on challenging rural roads with blind bends, dips and distractions. In 2015, 80% of all young driver deaths happened on rural roads.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) emphasises that motorway lessons will give learner drivers the confidence, skills and experience they need to use motorways safely. During lessons, learner drivers will get training on:
- how to join and leave the motorway, overtake and use lanes correctly
- using smart motorways correctly
- driving at high speed in motorway conditions
- motorway-specific traffic signs
- what to do if a vehicle breaks down on a motorway
DVSA Chief Driving Examiner, Mark Winn, said:
“DVSA’s priority is to help you through a lifetime of safe driving.
“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.”
DVSA is also reminding all drivers about the basic rules for motorway driving. As with any vehicle on the motorway, keep a safe distance from a learner driver in front of you.
On the motorway, always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear. If you overtake slower-moving vehicles, return to the left-hand lane as soon as you are safely past.
When you overtake, make sure the lane is sufficiently clear ahead and behind. Do not cut in on the vehicle you have overtaken when you move back over.
Since 2013, the police have had the power to issue fixed penalty notices for careless motorway driving, such as tailgating and middle-lane hogging. The fixed penalty is £100 with 3 points on the driver’s licence.