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Learner drivers to be allowed on the UK’s motorways from 2018

Transport Training Academy, one of the North West’s leading logistics training organisations, has always felt that it something of an oversight to train learner drivers to cope with the trials and tribulations of the UK’s roads and equip them for the difficulties they might face, but not give them any practical experience of motorway driving.  Drivers who have passed their theory and practical tests are left to fend for themselves when they face the big bad world of motorway driving, and naturally they often find this transition very difficult. [There currently is an option for newly-qualified drivers to sign up to the Voluntary Pass scheme, but not all drivers do.

TTA has always felt it would be far more preferable to give those learner drivers who have reached a certain level of competence, the opportunity to experience motorway conditions with a qualified instructor bedside them to hold their hands. The good news is this will finally happen in 2018, and TTA is delighted to hear the news.

Preparing drivers for a lifetime of safe driving

So what changes are being proposed? Well, from 2018 learner drivers will be allowed to take motorway driving lessons with an approved driving instructor in a car with dual controls. The reasoning behind this is simple and obvious when you think about it. This extra experience will give learner drivers:

  • a broader driving experience before taking their driving test
  • training on how to join and leave the motorway, overtake and use lanes correctly
  • the chance to practice driving at higher speeds
  • the chance to put their theoretical knowledge into practice

So how will the new changes work?

Well, the it’s worth noting that the change will apply to England, Scotland and Wales only – not Northern Ireland- and that any learner driver who chooses to take up the opportunity on this voluntary scheme will need to be accompanied by an approved driving instructor in a car fitted with dual controls. What’s more, the option won’t be available to all drivers or driving instructors: only those learners who are deemed to have reached a sufficient level of competence in the driving instructor’s eyes will be allowed to drive on motorways, and only fully qualified driving instructors (not trainees) will be allowed to take learners on motorways.

The changes will come into force in 2018 (exact date to be confirmed), but it should be noted that motorway driving will not be included in the driving test changes which will into force on 4 December 2017. It’s also worth noting that the change in rules will only apply to learner drivers of cars – learner motorcyclists won’t be allowed to have motorway lessons. The DVLC has said that the change will receive plenty of pre-publicity so both driving instructors and learner drivers are prepared for the change, and, more importantly, other road users know what to expect. The Highway Code rules on motorways will also be updated. Until that time, it should be noted that it is still illegal for a learner driver to drive on a motorway.

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