The UK’s largest representative body for driving instructors, Driving Instructors Association (DIA), has today welcomed the news that Learners will be allowed on motorways from June this year – particularly welcoming the caveat that training can only take place in a dual control car under the strict supervision of an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI).
A press release issued by the Department for Transport today announced that from 4 June 2018, learner drivers will be allowed to drive on motorways. This is set to be one of the biggest shake ups in driver training in years and comes nearly 60 years after the first stretch of motorway opened in the UK.
The changes will allow learner drivers to:
- get broader driving experience before taking their driving test
- get training on how to join and leave the motorway, overtake and use lanes correctly
- practise driving at higher speeds
- put their theoretical knowledge into practice
The Department for Transport consulted on these changes in December 2016, receiving wide support from learner drivers, road safety and driver training bodies like DIA and the general public. These changes apply to England, Wales and Scotland only.
Carly Brookfield, Chief Executive of Driving Instructors Association commented:
“Having lobbied for Learners to be allowed on motorways for decades, we are delighted to finally see this change. While motorways are statistically our safest roads, it can be nerve wracking for a newly licenced driver to tackle them, as they have previously had no opportunity to develop their experience on these roads in the pre-test period, despite it being a driving environment they will frequently need to operate within once licenced. The weight of driver education research points to the fact that in novice drivers, increased exposure to driving in all driving contexts and environments increases essential experience and knowledge – and therefore decreases risk. Allowing Learners to build that vital experience on motorways in the pre-test period will help them better manage the task and risk of driving on high speed roads once licenced.”
DIA, which as a key stakeholder in driver training was closely consulted by the government in the decision to deregulate motorways (and now working closely with government agencies such as Highways England to deliver learning resources to pupils and trainers to better prepare them for training in high speed road contexts) also welcomes the decision by the government to only allow Learners access under the strict supervision of a qualified driving instructor.
“The driving public should have no fear that, with this news, Learners will just be unleashed on our busy motorway network with just Mum and Dad in their normal car from the moment they get their provisional licence. Professional instructors will only take pupils onto the motorway network when they feel the Learner is ready to tackle that element of driving, all training will be done under the expert supervision of an experienced, fully qualified and licenced instructor and will be carried out in a dual control car – all combining to make the process as safe as possible for Learners and other road users.”
The association recently surveyed hundreds of pupils and driving instructors about their feelings surrounding driving on motorways, with the results revealing a lack of confidence which made many pupils fearful of driving on motorways. The survey of over 2000 trainers and pupils found that amongst new and Learner drivers, when it came to driving on motorways:
- 53% feared pressure from other drivers most
- 41% found joining motorways and changing lanes the most daunting prospect
- 63% of respondents were concerned about breaking down in this environment
DIA’s Head of Training Olivia Baldock Ward commented:
“The fear of what is currently the unknown (due to their lack of ability to experience driving in this environment pre test) is, for Learners and new drivers, a big factor in the nervousness they have in approaching motorway driving post test. And we even have some pupils who will try and avoid motorway driving completely for a long while post test as a result of that lack of confidence in both their skills – or what other drivers will think/do around them. Exposure and building experience is the best way of dealing with that fear, and in allowing pupils to develop competency and confidence – with the security and support of an expert driver training professional by their side.”