This summer, for the first time since the first lessons in 1959, learner drivers will be allowed to venture out onto the motorways.
In many ways, this is a good thing, as the UK lags behind other nations in its motorway tuition, while the majority of drivers take to them for the first time on their own without formal tuition.
The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has recognised the need for change and pushed a new law through that allows learners onto the high-speed routes from later in the year, but with a few strict rules. Here is all you need to know about the upcoming changes…
What are the changes?
From June 4, 2018, learner drivers across the UK will be allowed to take driving lessons on motorways as part of their regular instruction. Driving instructors will be actively encouraged to take their students onto the motorway network if they are confident that they have the ability and confidence to handle it.
Why are they being made?
The UK is one of the few countries left in Europe that doesn’t incorporate motorway driving as part of a learner driver’s tuition. The aim of motorway tuition is to improve standards of motorway driving, as well as to educate drivers about the correct use of ‘Smart Motorways’ with hard-shoulder running and variable speed limits.
Are they mandatory?
No – there’s no directive that says an instructor must take a student on a motorway, and the learner driver also has the right to decline motorway tuition if they don’t feel that they want to, or are ready to, drive on one. However, irrespective of whether they drive on the motorway, they will still be taught the theory of how to use one, along with how to read motorway road signs.Save money on your new car today
Why isn’t motorway driving part of the test?
All instructors are being encouraged to take their pupils on motorways as part of their driving education, but in some parts of the country, such as Western Wales, the Scottish Highlands, Cornwall and Norfolk, along with island communities, it simply isn’t practical. Candidates will still be tested on motorways as part of their theory test and will need to be able to demonstrate how Smart Motorways work.
Are all learners allowed on the motorway?
No, the law change applies to car drivers only, and learner motorcyclists aren’t allowed on the motorway network at all. Similarly, trainee driving instructors aren’t allowed to take students onto motorways until they have their full DSA qualifications.
What about motorway driving with friends or relatives?
No, this is not allowed. Indeed, the law is quite explicit in that the learner driver must be accompanied by a DSA-registered driving instructor and be driving a car fitted with dual controls.
When does the law change?
The new rules come into force on June 4, 2018. Until that date, it remains illegal for learner drivers to use motorways, or for cars to display L-plates while using them.