How do you feel about learner drivers on motorways? 

On Monday 4th June the law changed to allow learner drivers to have lessons on Britain’s motorways.  It’s by no means compulsory, but learner drivers can choose to gain some experience of motorway driving as long as they’re accompanied by an approved instructor in a dual-controlled car with L-plates.

This change was widely reported in the media, and it was interesting to read some responses from the public. Here are a few of them, taken from a variety of online forums, together with 4 Young Drivers’ views of the new laws.

“If learner drivers get into a new situation at those speeds the tutor won't have time to instruct them.”

Our thoughts: The new law says that driving instructors have to be satisfied that a learner is competent enough to have lessons on a motorway. That may seem like a rather arbitrary judgement, but instructors are highly qualified to make it. This isn’t just about the potential danger for other drivers – the instructor’s own safety and that of their student, gives them ample incentive to use good judgement as to when they first take a student onto a motorway.

It would make sense for motorway driving to be one of the later experiences a learner driver goes through, by which time they’ll have mastered basic car control and observation skills.

Under the previous rules, newly qualified drivers venture nervously onto the motorway for the first time with no supervision, no experience and no L-plates to help other drivers recognise that they should make allowances.  

“I’ve seen two learners on the motorway since the law changed and they were both driving better than some of the regular users!”

Our thoughts: Good point! Until now, there’s been absolutely no requirement for drivers to develop the skills that make good motorway drivers. A little motorway training could help new drivers to form better habits; farewell to middle-lane road hogs and tailgating: welcome to safer driving within the speed limit, better lane control and a thorough understanding of motorway signage!

“I've been driving four years and never once driven on a motorway out of fear.”

Our thoughts: This driver isn’t alone. A study we reported on in 2013 revealed that 48% of UK drivers admitted to going out of their way to avoid motorways.  And that’s understandable; simply joining a busy motorway from the slip-road can be a daunting experience for the novice, let alone being hemmed in on all side by other vehicles moving at speeds they’re not used to.

How much difference would it have made if those anxious drivers had gained a little motorway experience in the company of a trained instructor before going it alone? 

“In Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland (where I now live) it’s a part of the driving test... has been forever!”

Our thoughts: The government says it has no plans at present to incorporate motorway driving into the U.K. driving test, but it’s true that learner drivers are tested on their motorway driving skills in several other European countries, as well as the U.S. and Australia.  For the time being, though, practicing your driving skills on a motorway is completely voluntary.

Pass Plus or post-test driving lessons

If you’ve passed your test in the last 12 months without having had any motorway driving experience, you might want to consider taking the Pass Plus practical training course. Pass Plus covers driving situations you might not have had much experience of while learning to drive, including motorways, rural and city driving, night-time driving etc. 

For more experienced drivers who’d like to overcome their fear of motorway driving, why not book a few lessons with an approved driving instructor?

New drivers – get a quote for your first insurance! 

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Learner drivers – short-term cover while you gain experience

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Released On 21st Jun 2018