The Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has announced that learner drivers in Scotland, England and Wales will be allowed on motorways from this summer. It is hoped that the move will improve standards of motorway driving and make roads safer. It is currently illegal for learners to drive on a motorway, although motorway driving lessons are available for qualified drivers through the Pass Plus scheme.
Learner drivers will be allowed to drive on the motorway from 4th June 2018. Learner motorcyclists will still not be allowed on motorways.
Learners will only be legally allowed to drive on the motorway if they are accompanied by an approved driving instructor in a dual control vehicle. Trainee driving instructors and other individuals will not be allowed to accompany learner drivers on these roads.
The cars must be dual control and display L plates on the front or rear of the car. Instructors may choose to display a driving school rooftop box instead, , provided its specifications mean it can stand up to high speeds.
There are currently no plans to update the driving test to include motorway driving. Motorway lessons will be voluntary and at the discretion of the instructor if they determine that a driver has the competence to handle the conditions. A new driving test came into effect in December 2017 introducing a number of new elements including independent driving and following a sat nav.
Driving instructors will be given an updated syllabus and new learning materials that will include motorway driving. It will be recommended that learners will only drive on motorways towards the end of their training and when they are ready to sit the test.
Drivers should be aware that learners will be on the motorways and should always leave a safe distance and be patient as these drivers will lack experience of challenging conditions.
Motorways are currently the safest part of the UK driving network, accounting for 4% of crashes and 5% of fatalities. However, when accidents occur, they tend to be the most serious due to the high speeds involved. The changes will allow new drivers to get a broader experience of driving before sitting their test, as many aspects are unique to motorway driving.
Students will learn how to join and exit the motorway, practise driving at higher speeds as well as gaining a practical understanding of motorway signage. It will also help drivers learn about aspects such as lane discipline, hard shoulders and dealing with high-sided vehicles.