The Department for Transport has announced that learner drivers are now able to have lessons on motorways in a bid to improve road safety.
Learners will be able to join motorways starting in 2018 when the law comes into effect. Learner drivers will have to be in the company of an approved driving instructor in a dual control car, so that the instructor can regain control of the vehicle if they feel they have to.
Current legislation means learners can not enter on to a motorway until after they have passed their practical driving test, meaning most young drivers won’t have experienced motorway driving before so the first time they do may be a danger to themselves and other drivers.
The Department for Transport said that 82 drivers under 21 were involved in fatal motorway crashes between 2006 and 2010. It could not produce comparable figures for the past five years. However, it is hoped that by allowing learner drivers to practise on a motorway before taking their test will reduce this number.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “Younger drivers are up to seven times more likely to be killed or seriously injured compared with drivers over twenty-five and lack of experience is an important factor.
“Allowing learners to drive on motorways in a supportive environment will help them develop a practical understanding of how to use motorways safely before driving independently.”
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams welcomed the announcement. He said: “While motorways are statistically our safest roads, it can be daunting using them for the first time after passing the driving test.
“Giving learners the option to gain valuable experience on our fastest and busiest roads should further improve safety and enhance the confidence of new drivers.”
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, added: “It makes no sense that new drivers learn by trial and, sometimes fatal, error how to use our fastest and most important roads.
“Allowing learners on motorways with an approved instructor is a sensible and measured solution that should deliver confident new drivers who are much better able to cope with complex smart motorways.”