Britain’s motorways are now full of people who don’t know how to drive or what lane they should be in. And learner drivers.
Jokes aside, a law change that took effect on June 4th means that learner drivers can now venture onto the fastest, and arguably most dangerous, roads in the UK. Here’s everything you need to know about why the change has happened, what it means and how you should react.
Why have we let learner drivers on motorways?
Because before the law change, newly qualified drivers could hit their nearest motorway without an ounce of prior experience. This new law means that learners will be better prepared for the reality of motorway driving, potentially resulting in fewer accidents and improving road safety.
Considering the major differences between motorways and the tame local roads learners will be used to, many safety groups have long campaigned for mandatory motorway lessons for learner drivers – three in five UK motorists support this idea too.
Why aren’t motorway lessons mandatory?
Because not every driver needs to use a motorway. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) acknowledges this, explaining: “We know that some people won’t want to take lessons on the motorway or don’t live close enough to one for it to be practical.”
However, the body adds that motorway lessons are a good opportunity for new drivers to further develop their skills and experience ahead of driving solo.
Can I teach my friend/relative to drive on a motorway?
No – unless you’re a DVSA-approved driving instructor. A common sense caveat means any motorway lessons must be taken with a driving instructor approved by the DVSA in a car with dual controls.
DVSA-approved instructors will usually have a green DVSA badge displayed in their vehicle’s windscreen. You can find an approved driving instructor using the ‘Find driving lessons, schools and instructors’ service on GOV.UK.
I’ve been driving for years – what does this mean for me?
Nothing really. Anyone who passed their driving test yonks ago doesn’t have to take motorway lessons, if that’s what you’re getting at. It just means that every once in a while, you might spot a car with L-plates on your favourite M-road – just give them the same amount of space and patience as you would any other learner driver on local roads.
Be mindful that they might not have a clue what they’re doing and could be overwhelmed by their first taste of a motorway and adjust your driving behaviour accordingly.
Do you think it’s a good idea for learner drivers to practice on motorways? Let us know down in the comments.