Despite the fact that on June 4, 2018, the law changed, enabling learner drivers to take to the motorway provided they had their instructor with them, 50% of drivers are largely unaware of this fact, and 83% don’t see learner vehicles on the motorway.
Before the Law Changed
Before the law changed, learner drivers were not allowed on motorways but could book lessons with their instructor after successfully passing their tests. However, many didn’t because they assumed that holding a driving license meant they were safe to head out alone. The changing law was because it has been proven that it is better for drivers to experience the motorway as part of their learning journey. Go out on the motorway as a learner driver. Not only must you have your approved driving instructor with you, but the car must have dual controls installed. The safety feature means that if there is a problem, your instructor can immediately take control of the vehicle and resume a safe experience.
The AA Wants to See More
Speaking about the revelation, the head of instructor training at the AA driving school, Mark Born, explained why they were disappointed in the lack of uptake. He reiterated that motorways come out as the safest roads in our network, but nervous or unsure drivers can create a real danger because of the speed is used. Some people simply choose to avoid motorway driving using other roads that take longer and may not be suitable for very long journeys.
It makes a lot of sense for drivers to learn every aspect of every road that we have. It doesn’t make sense for them to be banned from motorways until such time as they have a valid license. We know that 17 to 24-year-old males are responsible for the second-highest accident rate, so allowing them to learn with an instructor on board is a much better idea. Once they have passed the test, they slip out of the system and potentially never bother to learn how to drive on a motorway safely.
The First Learner on a Motorway
Now, aged 22, Finbar King holds the title of being the first-ever learner to take his lesson on the motorway. After the law changed five years ago, he took to the M25 with an AA instructor by his side just after midnight. Speaking about his experience, he said, “The motorway lessons helped to give me the confidence to drive on motorways after I passed my test. I now use motorways a lot, either going to play or watch football, and the tuition certainly helped me to drive safely, although I’m no big fan of ‘smart’ motorways.”
Many drivers who passed their test a long time before the law changed have the same opinion, with one of them, summing it up nicely, “It's the most daunting thing for a lot of new drivers, but if the rules of the motorway are understood and obeyed it's the best way to travel long distances. These lessons weren't available when I learnt to drive; otherwise, I would have taken them.”