Learner drivers will be able to drive on motorways for the very first time from 4 June in plans to improve road safety.
The changes being announced by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) are supported by road safety organisations, the driver training industry and the public, and will allow learners to have lessons on motorways if they are with a qualified instructor and in a dual-controlled car.
Motorways are some of Britain’s safest roads but latest figures show that in 2016, there were 93 fatalities and 803 serious injuries. Allowing learners to take supervised motorway lessons and teaching them how to drive on them safely and properly will help cut the number of deaths and injuries.
Mark Winn, DVSA Deputy Chief Driving Examiner said:
“DVSA’s priority is to help you through a lifetime of safe driving.
“Allowing learners to practice on motorways with a professional instructor gives them the opportunity be taught motorway rules and etiquette properly, practice at higher speeds and will help make our roads even safer.”
Peter Harvey, Chairman of the driving instructors’ trade body, National Associations Strategic Partnership (NASP) said:
“The partners in NASP are very pleased to see that learner drivers are, at last, being allowed to drive on motorways. Driver trainers have been campaigning for many years to be able to train learner drivers on the vital skills needed on motorways before they pass their driving tests.
“We have been preparing for this announcement for quite some time and have been and continue to offer advice and training to our members on best practice when they take novice drivers on to a motorway for the first time.
“We have produced guidelines which are available on the NASP website. We are keen to emphasise to driver trainers that they should only take learners on to motorways when the learner is ready. Learner drivers should not expect their instructor to be giving them motorway training until they are ‘test-ready.”
With a month to go until the changes take effect and ahead of a busy bank holiday on Britain’s motorways, DVSA is reminding drivers of the official motorway guidance in the Highway Code:
When you can see well ahead and the road conditions are good, you should
- drive at a steady cruising speed which you and your vehicle can handle safely and is within the speed limit
- keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front and increase the gap on wet or icy roads, or in fog
You MUST NOT exceed 70 mph (112 km/h), or the maximum speed limit permitted for your vehicle.
You should always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear. If you are overtaking a number of slower-moving vehicles, you should return to the left-hand lane as soon as you are safely past.
Do not overtake unless you are sure it is safe and legal to do so. Overtake only on the right.
Rule 217 of the Highway Code will be especially important in relation to the new learners on motorways rule:
Learners and inexperienced drivers. They may not be so skilful at anticipating and responding to events. Be particularly patient with learner drivers and young drivers.
Only fully-qualified driving instructors – who have passed enhanced criminal record checks and had their ability to teach assessed to a set standard – are allowed to have their details shown on www.gov.uk/drivinglessons.
- Younger drivers are currently around 5 to 7 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured than car drivers aged 25 or over.
- 120 young car drivers died in 2015. Of these, 80% occurred on rural roads, 16% on urban roads and 4% on motorways
- 3% of new drivers had taken a Pass Plus course in 2015/16
- 8% of drivers fail to comply with the ‘red X’ on smart motorways
- Over 99% of people who pass their driving test say they’ve had some professional tuition
- Less than 1% of people who pass their driving test say they’ve taken no professional tuition
- 85% of the population of Great Britain is within 20 miles of a motorway junction
DVSA carries out driving tests, approves people to be driving instructors and MOT testers, carries out tests to make sure lorries and buses are safe to drive, carries out roadside checks on drivers and vehicles, and monitors vehicle recalls.
DVSA is an executive agency, sponsored by the Department for Transport
For more information please contact DVSA press office on 0117 954 3208 or 0115 936 6135.