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Cars driving on the motorway M77

Monday, June 18, 2018

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

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.


Friday, June 15, 2018

Witness appeal after Edinburgh Airport tram crash

Witnesses to the Edinburgh tram crash are being asked to help injured passengers seek justice.

Several passengers have stepped forward after being hurt in Wednesday’s collision.

Lianda Barnes, Partner at Digby Brown Solicitors, is representing a number of those affected.

She said: “As many will have seen in previous media coverage this collision was no mere bump.

“Many people were injured in the collision and are now seeking legal assistance to try and understand why the crash happened at all.

“Our investigations into this are at an early stage but we strongly believe those who witnessed the incident will hold the key to unlocking the mystery behind it and help those affected.”


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Thinking about cycling on the road? Make sure you know the rules

With Bike Week underway from Saturday 9th June until Sunday 17th June, our cycling law team have put together some advice for those planning to make cycling part of their everyday life. Whether this is cycling to work or school, a visit to a shop or friend, it is important to make sure you know the rules for cyclists and stay safe on the roads.

What should a cyclist wear?

There has always been much debate as to what cyclists should and should not wear. It is very important that cyclists do as much as they can to help themselves be seen by others.

The Highway code states that a cyclist should wear a cycle helmet that complies with current regulations, fitted and light coloured clothing along with reflective clothing or accessories.

What lights should your bike have?

Bikes must have a white front light and a red rear light showing a steady or flashing light. For bikes manufactured after 1985, they should be fitted with amber pedal reflectors.

You can find more information in our blog Autumn cycling – cycle lights and the law.

Knowing your cycling lanes

Cyclists MUST NOT cycle on the pavement at any time and use cycle routes where available. It is vital that you safely use cycle routes, tracks, lanes and bus lanes; for example, when using a segregated cycle track you must keep to the side intended for cyclists.

Cyclists can use certain bus lanes when allowed to by road signs. However, extra care should be given for people getting on and off buses. You should not overtake a bus by passing in between the kerb and the bus when it is at a stop.

You can find more information about cycling lanes in our blog Cycle lanes – to use or not to use?

Can you go through a red light?

No, cyclists MUST NOT cross the stop line when lights are at red. All traffic signals and signs should be obeyed at all times. You should only position yourself ahead of the traffic where advanced stop lines are available.

Can you cycle across crossings?

Cyclist are not permitted to cycle across equestrian, pelican, puffin or zebra crossings. You should get off your bike and wheel it across.

Where there is a toucan crossing, a light-controlled crossing, cyclists are allowed to cycle across when the green signal shows. It is important to be careful of pedestrians crossing at the same time.

For tramways or level crossings, you should get off your bike and wheel it across where a ‘cycle dismount’ sign is shown.

Negotiating junctions

For junctions, it is important to watch out for vehicles in front of you and pay attention to long vehicles, particularly when they are turning a corner. Do not ride on the inside of vehicles signalling or slowing down to turn left. If you are turning right, it may be safer to wait on the left until there is a safe gap in traffic or get off and push your bike across the road.

Dealing with roundabouts

All too often, we see clients who have been injured at a roundabout as the driver failed to see them. It is very important to be extra careful when approaching a roundabout and making sure you are as visible as you can be and take extra care when cycling across exits and watch out for traffic joining the roundabout. You can choose to walk your bike around using the pavement or verge.

What you should and should NOT do when cycling

There is some general guidance to remember when cycling on the roads, including:

  • Keep both feet on the pedals
  • Keep both hands on handlebars - unless signalling or changing gear
  • Be mindful of traffic coming up behind you
  • Do not carry a passenger unless your bike has been built or adapted accordingly
  • Don’t cycle under the influence of drink or drugs, including medicines.

For more guidance on rules for cycling on the road, see the Highway Code Rules 59 to 82.

Expert legal advice for cyclists

If you need expert advice after suffering an injury when riding your bike, contact our cycling law solicitors at Digby Brown who will be happy to help you.

Call us on 0333 200 5925, text help to 83310 or fill in our brief enquiry form and someone will contact you.


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