The government has announced new rules that will allow learner drivers in England, Scotland and Wales to have driving lessons on motorways from 2018. The Department of Transport (DoT) said the lessons would need to be in a dual controlled car and with an approved instructor.
At the moment, only drivers who have passed their test are allowed to drive on the motorway. However, back in 2015 the DoT announced that it would consider changing the law. Now, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said that he is confident that the move will make our roads safer. The idea is that lessons on the motorway will create a supportive environment that will help learner drivers to “develop a practical understanding of how to use motorways safely” before they are able to drive on them independently.
A scary experience
Mr Grayling added that young drivers were more likely to be seriously injured or killed while driving on Britain’s roads. One of the big factors behind this is a lack of experience. The UK has some of the safest roads in the world. The DoT wants to do everything it can to preserve that reputation and to make our roads safer still.
Speaking to BBC News, one new driver admitted that it was a scary experience to have passed her test and then go on the motorway for the first time. Reading up on the theory of driving on the motorway, she admitted, didn’t really prepare her for the real thing.
The newly qualified driver said that motorway lessons would have helped with those nerves. She was keen that motorway instruction be part of learning to drive in the future. Her view, like that of Mr Grayling, was that it would help drivers feel more confident and experienced while on the motorways, thus contributing to making our roads safer.
Connection to road deaths
Figures from the DoT show that there were 1,810 deaths on the country’s roads between September 2015 and September 2016. After the 2015 figures were reported, documents were published suggesting steps to help reduce the number of deaths. These included higher fines for drivers using mobile phones and a new research program to look at improving safety for inexperienced drivers.
The latest DoT announcement – that learner drivers will be allowed to have lessons on motorways – has certainly been greeted with enthusiasm.
RAC spokesman Pete Williams backed the move, saying that while motorways are statistically the safest roads, they can also be daunting for those using them for the first time after passing their test.
Edmund King of the AA likewise backed the new announcement. He described motorway driving as the Achilles’ heel of learning to drive. King added that almost half of motorists know someone, such as a friend or family member, who avoids driving on motorways.
Learners will have to get the hang of some of the basic rules of motorway driving prior to their lessons, including giving priority to traffic already ahead when joining the road and learning to match their speed to fit in with the flow before considering overtaking.
Other rules include only overtaking on the right-hand side when it is safe and legal to do so – although in congested conditions you can keep up with traffic in your lane, even if this means breaking this rule. However, you shouldn’t weave between lanes just to try and get to your destination faster. Learners should also be aware that drivers should always drive in the left-hand lane when the conditions are good, maintaining a steady speed within the speed limit.
First-time motorway users are advised to keep calm and plan ahead. They need to learn to ease off the accelerator to create a gap when required or speed up quickly when joining the road. Of course, learners also need to remember to watch the speed limits – while most are 70mph, there are plenty of areas with 50mph limits featuring average speed cameras.
Here at PetrolPrices, we welcome the move to give learner drivers lessons on the UK’s motorways. The new arrangement will allow learners to get to grips with motorway driving safely, in dual controlled cars and with approved instructors – rather than on their own with nobody there to guide them should they need advice!
Do you think that it’s right to allow learners onto our motorways? Will the move improve the safety of our roads or not? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.