Following a consultation on the idea at the end of last year, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced plans to allow learner drivers to use motorways in England, Wales and Scotland only from 2018.
Independent road safety charity IAM RoadSmart has welcomed the move, saying the changes are long overdue and should make a significant difference to accident rates amongst new and inexperienced drivers.
Learners will only be allowed on motorways with an approved driving instructor in a dual control car. The Government says this will provide a broader range of real life experiences and better prepare learners for independent driving when they pass their test.
Currently learners cannot drive on a motorway until after they have passed their test which means that the first experience of motorway driving for many is as a nervous novice without the guidance of an instructor or the safety of a dual control car.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “It makes no sense that new drivers learn by trial and, sometimes 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 confident new drivers who are much better able to cope with complex smart motorways.”
A forthcoming IAM RoadSmart report, produced in association with TRL, is said to show that new drivers struggle to adapt to motorways more than other roads, and currently need more time to learn how to use them safely. This is especially true when it comes to negotiating slip roads.
The full report will be issued later this year.