Andrew Jones, our Road Safety Minister, has announced that pupils will be able to learn to drive on our motorways from 2018. Currently, motorway lessons are available for people that have passed their test however, uptake is low. The proposed deregulatory measure will enable pupils to gain professional tuition on motorways with the intention of making our roads safer.
Why are pre-test motorway lessons important?
As it stands qualified drivers can take a pass plus course that includes motorway tuition, drivers can also pay for a motorway lesson once they’ve passed.
However, uptake is incredibly low, in the 2015/2016 year there were just over 21,000 Pass-Plus certificates issued out of nearly 720,000 practical test passes. This suggests that only 3% of newly qualified drivers received professional motorway tuition.
Motorways present different challenges to dual carriageways, with an increased number of lanes, slip road set ups and ‘Smart Motorways.’ 8% of drivers do not comply with the “red X” on sections of smart motorways.
What the government want to implement
The government want to make it so that learner drivers can go on the motorway whilst they’re in a dual controlled car AND with a qualified approved driving instructor.
They want to make it an optional part of learning to drive.
It will not be mandatory, due to there been some areas in the country that are unrealistically far away from motorways. See below picture of motorway network.
(Crown copyright and database rights 2016, Ordnance Survey Licence Number 100039241)
- The Learner gets more practice of driving at higher speeds
- Correct usage of motorways is learned – Some people have never been told that sitting in the middle lane can cause congestion.
- Theoretical knowledge can be tested.
- More people should, as a result, use motorways correctly, henceforth improving the flow of traffic and safety.
- The stakes may be higher at higher speeds. Potentially, learner drivers could pose as a hazard to other road users.
- Impatience of other road users around the learners.
- If more people are learning to drive on motorways, more people could use the motorways, increasing traffic and potential for more collisions.
What others say
Our own Michelle Partington, Customer Account Manager here at Surepass, commented “Slip roads are the scariest element of a motorway to me and also route planning, i.e. which junctions you need to exit etc. These are things I’ve had to learn for myself (after refusing to drive on a motorway for 10 years). This is a positive addition, motorways are scary places!”
James Collier commented on a Conservative Facebook post about the subject, “So the motorways are now gonna be full of incompetent idiots going 40mph. Very safe, just what I need when I’m on my bike.”
What I say
I recall passing my test in Manchester many moons ago, I also had my new car waiting for me in Manchester once I had passed. The only issue I had was I lived in Scunthorpe. From Manchester to my home just outside of Scunthorpe it is exactly 100 miles, 90 of which are on the motorway. I used the skills I learnt on dual carriageways and got on with it. I WAS TERRIFIED. This was my first solo drive, driving under conditions that were intimidating. I made it out alive, mainly because I drove at 60mph the whole way. Back then, I remember thinking this should be a part of pre-test learning. The concept of someone passing their test and instantly been allowed to drive on motorways quite simply left me puzzled. I for one, welcome the change!