Learner drivers are now able to take lessons on motorways after the government introduced changes to improve safety.
The move has been welcomed by road safety groups and are part of the government’s efforts to better prepare learner drivers for driving safely on the roads after passing their test.
Edmund King, director of the AA Charitable Trust, said: “We welcome these changes to allow learner drivers onto motorways under the guidance of a fully-qualified driving instructor.
“Collision statistics confirm that young drivers are drastically over-represented in crashes so this change, which will help broaden the opportunities they have while learning, is very positive.
“It’s clear from our research that motorway driving has been a significant hurdle for many drivers to overcome after their test and that being allowed on these roads whilst learning is welcomed by the majority of drivers.
“It is ironic that so many drivers avoid motorways after passing their test when, statistically, they are our safest roads. It will also provide a great opportunity to educate a new generation of drivers about avoiding many drivers’ pet hates such as middle lane hogging, tailgating and swooping. It is somewhat perverse that five minutes after passing the driving test a new driver could venture alone onto a motorway without having had any motorway tuition.”
To drive on the motorway, learner drivers will have to be with a driving instructor in a dual-controlled car. However, road safety group, Brake is urging the government go even further and is calling for the introduction of a comprehensive Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system across the UK.
The group wants a 12-month learner period, an initial test, and then a two-year novice period when drivers can drive independently but with restrictions – such as a late-night driving curfew.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “While today’s move is a small step in the right direction, a total overhaul in the way in which we learn to drive is urgently needed. Young people are disproportionality at risk on our roads – 7% of the driving population but involved in a fifth of all road deaths – and this is ultimately down to inexperience. Training on motorways is important, but with just 4% of crashes taking place on these roads, today’s changes fall well short.
“Brake urges a solution which will deliver radical improvements. A Graduated Driver Licensing System includes a minimum supervised learning period and restrictions for newly qualified drivers and is proven to work. A government report stated the public health benefits of GDL are indisputable and could prevent up to 9,000 casualties annually.
“Improvements in UK road safety have stagnated in recent years and a step-change is required. GDL is proven to deliver for some of our most vulnerable road users and must be implemented as a matter of priority.”
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