Learner drivers to be allowed on motorways for first time
Learner drivers will be able to use motorways under new Government plans to improve driver and motorcyclist training.
Announced by Transport Minister Andrew Jones, the proposals – which are out for consultation – would see competent learner drivers able to have lessons on motorways with an approved driving instructor in a dual controlled car from 2018.
In addition, novice riders will be required to complete a theory test as part of their Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) and provisional motorcyclists will be banned after receiving six penalty points.
Mr Jones said allowing learners on a motorway would improve the awareness and experience of new drivers, boosting safety on roads.
He commented: “We have some of the safest roads in the world and we want to make them even safer. These changes will equip learners with a wider range of experience and greater skill set which will improve safety levels on our roads.”
The RAC welcomed the news. Director Steve Gooding said: “The casualty statistics tell us that motorways are our safest roads, but they can feel anything but safe to a newly qualified driver heading down the slip road for the first time to join a fast moving, often heavy, flow of traffic. Many are so intimidated by the motorway environment that they choose instead to use statistically more dangerous roads, so we welcome this move which will help new drivers get the training they need to use motorways safely.”
Neil Greig, director of policy and research of IAM RoadSmart, which has long campaigned for these changes, also greeted the move: “It makes no sense that new drivers learn by trial and, often 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 drivers who are much better able to cope with complex new smart motorways.”
On the changes to motorcycle training, he said: “These proposals close two obvious loopholes that IAM RoadSmart has been highlighting with motorcycle industry training partners. A theory test should always be the first step for any motorised road user before they reach the road. The six penalty point approach also finally brings motorcycle users in line with the New Driver’s Act for car drivers.”
The Department for Transport and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency have launched consultations seeking views on the proposed measures. The consultations will run until 17 February 2017 and the changes could come into force in 2018.