Since 4th June 2018 learner drivers have been allowed to use motorways across the UK as part of their driving lessons.
The change in the law is a complete turnaround from the previous rules, which prevented learner drivers entering the motorway until they had successfully passed their driving test. Now learner drivers can take their driving lessons onto the motorway, but what are the restrictions and rules around this new law?
To ensure the safety of all road users learner drivers must be accompanied by a qualified Approved Driving Instructor (ADI), in a vehicle which features dual controls and is displaying ‘L’ plates. This means those learning to drive with parents or family friends will not be able to enter the motorway in a standard vehicle. Those training to be a driving instructor will not be allowed to take learner drivers onto the motorway.
Although this change to the law has been introduced, it is not a compulsory part of learning to drive and is not going to become part of the driving test. The change has been introduced to allow learner drivers to experience motorway driving under the safe guidance of a qualified professional. Where previously this had not been the case some new drivers avoided motorway driving in favour of rural roads. However in 2015 80% of young driver deaths happened on rural roads. By allowing learner drivers to experience a motorway environment before they take their driving test it is hoped they’ll gain a broader driving experience. With valuable experience under their belt of driving at high speeds, overtaking and using lanes correctly, learner drivers should build their confidence for future scenarios.
Advice for ADIs
However the decision to practice on the motorway will be down to their ADI, not the learner driver themselves. It is solely down to the instructor to determine whether or not they believe their pupil is ready. Which is where we at 4 Wheelz feel the risk lies in this introduction. Whilst we believe the above reasons are positive for learner drivers, driving instructor’s must show due diligence for the safety of themselves, the pupil and all other road users. We have informed all of our driving instructors to only take trained pupils who display confident, competent and safe driving during normal driving lessons before taking them onto any motorway.
For driving instructors we recommend completing basic ground work on fast, national speed limit dual carriageways where the learner driver can practise entering and leaving, overtaking and changing lanes. Ensure their confidence is there on these types of roads first, before even considering lessons on the motorway.
So long as ADI’s demonstrate due diligence when it comes to taking their pupils on the motorway we believe this to be a positive step forward. It is a crucial skill all learner drivers should be able to practice in a safe environment, instead of experiencing a motorway for the first time by themselves, or even worse with a car full of friends. When done right the outcome should be a more confident, safe driver which should hopefully further impacting the falling rate of road accidents involving young people.