Government calls for learner driver motorway lessons on safety grounds, the RAC perspective and public consultation.
Benefits of teaching learners to use motorways
The Government has proposed a change of law to permit learner drivers to have lessons on motorways to improve safety. If the proposal is implemented, it is likely learners will have to be accompanied by an approved instructor – rather than an unqualified family member or friend - and have a car fitted with dual controls.
The Government emphasised it is committed to reducing the number of people killed and injured on the roads. The purpose of its proposal is to fulfil this commitment. It argued it would allow learners to:
- “get broader driving experience before taking their driving test;
- get training on how to join and leave the motorway, overtake, and use lanes correctly;
- practice driving at higher speeds;
- put their theoretical knowledge into practice”.
The Government further proposed that tuition be voluntary. “It would be up to the driving instructor to decide when the learner driver is competent enough to have a motorway lesson”, it added. As things stand, it is illegal for learners to use such routes so some have such tuition once they have passed the practical/theory tests.
Transport Minister's perspective
Transport Minister, Andrew Jones, said: “We have some of the safest roads in the world and we want to make them even safer. These changes will equip learners with a wider range of experience and greater skill set which will improve safety levels on our roads.”
RAC Foundation backs proposal
RAC Foundation Director, Steve Gooding, backed the initiative. He stated: “The casualty statistics tell us that motorways are our safest roads, but they can feel anything but safe to a newly qualified driver heading down the slip road for the first time to join a fast moving - often heavy - flow of traffic.”
“Many are so intimidated by the motorway environment that they choose instead to use statistically more dangerous roads. We welcome this move which will help new drivers get the training they need to use motorways safely”, Mr Gooding concluded.
The Government is consulting on its proposal to enable learners to use motorways and motorists, instructors and other interested parties have to February 17th 2017 to respond. Questions relate to:
- whether the proposal is fundamentally sound,
- whether tuition should be voluntary or compulsory,
- whether cars should be compulsorily fitted with dual controls,
- whether trainee instructors should be permitted to instruct,
- whether roof top box learner signs should be removed,
- financial consequences.