Learner drivers now allowed on motorways – is this a good thing?

Cars on the M77

From Monday 4 June 2018, learner drivers will be able to take driving lessons on motorways in England, Scotland and Wales.

At the moment, you can only have motorway lessons after you’ve passed your driving test. Motorway driving isn’t being introduced to the driving test as part of this change. Some newly qualified drivers can take lessons on driving on the motorway through a Pass Plus scheme but this is optional rather than mandatory.

Is this putting learner drivers at risk?

There are a couple of conditions before learner drivers will be allowed to drive on motorways. The learner driver has to be accompanied by an approved driving instructor and the car must be fitted with dual controls.

It is also not mandatory for learner drivers to go on the motorway. It is up to the discretion of the driver instructor whether or not the learner driver is ready to drive on a motorway.

Learner motorcyclists will not be allowed on motorways.

What about the risk of other motorway drivers?

Other motorway drivers will be able to spot learner drivers on the road as these vehicles must clearly show red L plates in the front and rear or the driving school roof box.

When drivers come across learner drivers on the motorway, they should keep a safe distance and increase the space when roads are wet or icy, or in foggy conditions. And remember to be patient as they may not be as good at anticipating and responding to changes in traffic and hazards on the road.

Find more information at The Highway Code rules on motorways.

What are the benefits of learner drivers on the motorway?

The changes have come into place to help make sure more drivers know how to use motorways safely. Before this change, new drivers could go on a motorway minutes after passing their test, having never driven on a motorway before.

New drivers are most at risk of being involved in an accident following the first six months of passing their test. In Scotland, there were 9,341 road casualties reported in 2017 and this includes 5,685 car casualties. 15 to 19 year olds experience almost double the risk of death from road traffic accidents in comparison to the general population.

Some of the common causes of motorway accidents are:

  • Cutting infront of traffic
  • Not leaving enough braking distance from the car infront
  • Lack of lane awareness and discipline
  • Not checking mirrors for bikers

As a result of driving on the motorway, learner drivers will benefit from:

  • Practising driving at higher speeds
  • Understanding motorway traffic signs
  • Improving their ability and confidence to drive on the motorway unsupervised after passing their driving test.

At Digby Brown, we see all too often the devastating impact of road traffic accidents in a variety of circumstances, not just on motorways. Digby Brown welcomes these changes to allow learner drivers experience of driving on motorways before passing their driving test. We are hopeful this will provide drivers with more experience with a view to reducing unnecessary accidents on our roads.