From today learner drivers will be allowed to take lessons on motorways, in a bid to improve road safety.
However, the change does not mean that any learner can drive on a motorway right away. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Learners have to be with a qualified instructor
The rules mean that learners can’t just take to the motorway with a parent or any adult, it has to be done with an approved and qualified instructor. As well as this, the car being driven on the motorway must be a vehicle with dual controls – although the majority of driving instructors use cars fitted with two sets of pedals for safety anyway.
2. It’s not compulsory
While the Driving and Vehicle Standards Authority (DVSA) has introduced the measures to allow learners to get further experience before passing their tests, it isn’t compulsory for learners to practise on the motorway, and it will never be included in any test. For reasons such as geography, with some people simply living too far away from a motorway to justify making it mandatory, learning to drive on motorways remains optional.
3. It’s been welcomed by safety experts
Road safety charity IAM RoadSmart has welcomed the decision, along with other organisations, to allow learners on motorways.
The charity’s director of policy and research Neil Gregg, said: “We strongly welcome this common-sense change to the law on motorway driving.
“Delays and injuries caused by driver error blight our motorways and with new systems such as smart motorways being widely introduced, it is vital that the level of knowledge and skill among motorway users is improved to keep our key economic routes flowing.”
4. Driving instructors will choose when learners are fit to drive on motorways
While the DVSA has left this aspect somewhat ambiguous, driving instructors will make the final call on when they feel their pupils are ready to drive on motorways. Several instructors have commented that they will only allow learners on these stretches of road when they are “test ready”.
5. The DVSA still recommends drivers do the Pass Plus
Pass Plus lessons are additional tuition for drivers once they have passed their test to help improve their basic skills. The DVSA says these sessions are a good way for new motorists to gain more experience driving in different conditions, which includes motorway driving as well.
6. The Highway code has changed
The Highway Code has been updated to accommodate this change, with rule 253 now stating that learner drivers are allowed on the motorway with an approved driving instructor in a dual control car.