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Learner drivers to have motorway driving lessons

motorway, cars and vans on major road.

Learner drivers will be allowed to have driving lessons on motorways under new plans set out today (December 30, 2016) by transport minister Andrew Jones.

Currently, it is only possible to have driving lessons on motorways after the driving test has been passed. Some newly-qualified drivers take lessons through the voluntary Pass Plus scheme.

Under the new plans, learner drivers would need to be accompanied by an approved driving instructor and in a car fitted with dual controls.

Any motorways lessons would be voluntary. It would be up to the driving instructor to decide when the learner driver is competent enough to have a motorway lesson.

The Government said any change to the law would be well-publicised before coming into effect. Until then, it’s still illegal for a learner driver to drive on a motorway.

The proposed changes aim to help contribute towards the Government’s commitment to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads, and ensure safer journeys.

Jones, said: “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 Department for Transport (DfT) is also asking for views on whether:

  • The current driving instructor training and testing system gives instructors the skills they need to provide motorway lessons to learner drivers.
  • Specially-adapted vehicles must be fitted with dual controls if they’re used for motorway lessons.
  • L plate roofboxes on cars must be removed before a motorway lesson

RAC 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.”

Have your say on the proposals by 17 February 2017.

DVSA has also launched a consultation asking for views on proposals to improve motorcycle training.

One proposed change would see learner motorcyclists banned from riding after receiving six penalty points. They'd need to take another compulsory basic training (CBT) course to start riding again.

Other proposed changes for riders are to:

  • Consider introducing a theory test that has to be taken before (or as part of) the CBT course.
  • Introduce a training course for riders to upgrade their motorcycle licence, instead of passing extra tests.
  • Restrict riders to riding an automatic motorcycle if they take their CBT course on one.
  • Change the CBT course syllabus from five parts to four.
  • There are also proposals to improve how motorcycle instructors qualify and are quality assured.

Find out more about how the proposed changes will work and give your views.

Road safety charity IAM RoadSmart has welcomed Government plans to dramatically improve driver and motorcycling training.

Neil Greig, director of policy and research, said: “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.”

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