By law, learner drivers have never been allowed to drive on motorways — even under instructor supervision. The closest driving instructors could come to simulating the experience was by taking pupils onto dual carriageways.
But the motorway rules for learner drivers is set to change. In 2018, the UK government will revise the law. This will allow drivers under instruction to use motorways. Read on to find out more about these changes and what they mean for you.
Not enough new drivers feel confident on motorways
Pass Plus is a driving course for newly-qualified drivers. It includes motorway driving as part of the syllabus and is something we’d recommend to all new drivers. But the problem is that Pass Plus is voluntary, so not that many new drivers choose to take the course.
For this reason, the first time many drivers navigate these busy, intimidating roads they’re quite literally on their own. They will be nervous, and they probably won’t know all of the motorway rules. Their lack of experience could lead to them making a fatal mistake. This is a serious safety concern and something that campaigners have been fighting to change for years.
Some people even avoid driving on motorways altogether. Their lack of experience means they don’t have the confidence to tackle what is statistically Britain’s safest class of road.
Long overdue changes to motorway rules
From 4th June 2018, learner drivers will finally be allowed to drive on the UK’s motorways.
It’s hoped that these changes will give learners the skills and the experience they need to become safe and confident drivers under a wider range of conditions.
The change is small, but it will have a big impact. Simply put, the change means that learner drivers under instruction will be permitted to drive on the UK’s motorways. There are two requirements that must be met to stay within the law:
- The learner driver must be accompanied by a fully qualified driving instructor (ADI). Trainee (or PDI) instructors are not permitted to take learners onto motorways. Neither is your mum or your dad (unless they’re also an ADI, of course!)
- Learners must be driving a car fitted with dual controls.
What this means is that, as a learner, you won’t be able to practice driving on a motorway privately in your own car or your parents’ car.
Motorway driving lessons will be voluntary because motorway driving will not be included in the practical test. It will be up to your instructor to decide when you are ready to take motorway driving lessons.
When are the changes happening?
It took the DVSA a little while to decide when it was going to bring this change into force. However, shortly after we published this article, we received the announcement that the law will be changing on 4th June 2018.
We want to make it clear that until the change in law officially comes into force, it remains illegal for learners to drive on motorways under any conditions.
Why are changes needed?
According to official statistics, motorways are the safest class of road to travel on in Britain. But the fact remains that learner drivers aren’t given an opportunity to experience motorway driving under safe and controlled conditions.
At the moment, young drivers are up to seven times more likely to be killed or seriously injured on the country’s roads compared to those aged over 25.
Lack of experience is one of the key factors that contributes to this shocking statistic. Leading driving organisations and the government both agree that giving new drivers tuition on motorways is an important step towards improving road safety.
What do I do in the meantime?
The law hasn’t changed, yet… So if you want to gain some experience of motorway driving an are hoping to pass before June, why not plan ahead and take a look at our Pass Plus courses?
Or, if you’re a more confident driver who wants to improve their driving skills, you might be interested in our Advanced Driving Lessons instead.