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The DVSA have this weekend announced that learner car drivers in England, Scotland and Wales will be allowed to have motorway lessons in 2018. The decision follows a consultation where 80% of respondents thought that learners should be “allowed to take lessons on motorways, subject to certain safeguards”.
Whilst motorways are statistically the safest roads in the UK, they’re also a real source of anxiety and nerves for many motorists. It is currently illegal for a provisional licence holder to drive on a motorway, yet the moment a learner passes their practical test they are able to drive on a motorway, unsupervised, with no prior experience.
This may not be as much of a concern for learners who have a busy dual carriageway in their area but for many drivers who don’t the thought of motorway driving can be daunting.
However, at some point in 2018 (date yet to be confirmed) provisional licence holders will be able to drive on the motorway under strict new rules.
- Car must be dual controlled
- Learner must be accompanied by an approved driving instructor
- L plates must be shown at the front and back of the vehicle
It is worth noting, however, that motorway driving will NOT be forming part of the new driving test, and therefore is not compulsory for a learner who does not want to drive on the motorway.
An approved driving instructor must assess when a learner is safe to drive on the motorway, and only then can a motorway lesson go ahead. And as mentioned above, if you don’t feel comfortable driving on the motorway at that point, you can choose to push it back to a later date, or to not do one at all.
The DVSA have said the changes will be “well-publicised” so learners, instructors and other road users will be prepared for the changes, and know what to expect. The highway code and theory test questions which relate to learners on the motorway will also have to be updated.
We often find learner drivers struggle with theory test questions about the motorway, as it’s difficult to relate to a situation you’ve never experienced. So we’re hopeful having experience of driving on a motorway will have a positive effect on theory test revision too.
The consultation carried out by the Department for Transport (DfT) was carried out between December 2016 and February 2017 and received 2923 responses, from which:
- 80% all responses think that learners should be allowed to take lessons on motorways subject to certain safeguards
- 51% of all responses think that motorway lessons should be optional
- 68% of all responses think that approved driving instructors should exercise their discretion in providing a motorway lesson no a learner driver with whom they have had no previous contact
- 80% all responses think that learner driver motorway lessons must only take place in a car with a dual controlled brake (and clutch in manual cars)
Concerns were raised about the distance some learners would have to drive to reach the motorway if they live in a more rural location and a rather split opinion on whether motorways should be compulsory or not.