In a move to make Britain’s roads safer, Transport Minister, Andrew Jones, has announced plans to allow learner drivers to be permitted onto motorways for the first time. These plans are in their earlier stages but the Department of Transport is also looking at a scheme where driving instructors will be able to determine whether to provide lessons to learner drivers on motorways.
Currently, learner drivers are not permitted to drive on the motorway under instruction and for many, their first experience of joining busy motorways at high speed, using three-lane carriageways comes after they have passed their test. In a move to reduce accidents and to provide confidence to those learning to drive, the Government are proposing a change to allow learner drivers to obtain motorway driving experience.
Lessons would only be allowed to take place on motorways with an approved driving instructor in a dual controlled vehicle. There are also plans to update the motorcyclists’ compulsory basic training course to increase the number of online courses available and a proposal that novice drivers will have to take a theory test. It is rightly reported that motorways are statistically still the safest roads, but it is quite clear that the skill set required for drivers to use those roads are very different to any others and this is a move intended to maintain those high levels of safety and to make them even safer.
Another proposal is to introduce a mandatory minimum learning period for learner drivers requiring up to 120 hours behind the wheel before taking the test. Some may say that it is not about the hours put in, but the ability to drive in a variety of circumstances. An open consultation was published on 30 December 2016, in which Andrew Jones states that there is room for improvement on Britain’s road safety record. For example, in 2015, 1,732 people died on roads in the UK with 90% of road traffic collisions caused by human error.
The proposals for lessons on motorways to gain a broad range of experience before driving independently and to develop a practical understanding of how to use the motorway safely will hopefully bring these statistics further down. Any experience on a road, including driving on motorways, will provide skills that are transferable into other roads and should provide learner drivers with an awareness of all road users and any improvement of a learner scheme can only be viewed as positive.