Learner drivers to be allowed on motorways from next year

The M1.
The M1.
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Learner drivers are set to become a common sight on our motorways from next year after the Government announced plans to change the law to improve safety.

People learning to drive in England, Scotland and Wales will be allowed on motorways with their instructor as they prepare to take their test.

Currently only those with a full licence are permitted on motorways but the Government said the planned change to the law would ensure that newly-qualified drivers were better prepared.

The Department for Transport consulted on the measure earlier this year and said the plans received 'wide support' from learner drivers and instructors.

The Government hopes the legislation will be passed by Parliament in 2018, allowing learners to drive on motorways in a dual-control car.

"The UK has some of safest roads in the world and we want to make them even safer," said transport secretary Chris Grayling.

"Younger drivers are up to seven times more likely to be killed or seriously injured compared with drivers over 25 and lack of experience is an important factor.

"Allowing learners to drive on motorways in a supportive environment will help them develop a practical understanding of how to use motorways safely before driving independently."

Both the RAC and the AA welcomed the move, saying that many newly-qualified drivers found motorways 'daunting' due to their lack of experience.

"Giving learners the option to gain valuable experience on our fastest and busiest roads should further improve safety and enhance the confidence of new drivers," said RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams.

AA president Edmund King described a lack of motorway experience as the 'Achilles heel' of learner driver tuition.

Research showed that almost half of motorists know someone who avoids driving on motorways, he added.

However, road safety charity Brake said the measure did not go far enough, calling for all newly-qualified drivers to be given compulsory extra motorway lessons after passing their test.

"There needs to be much wider reform to the learning-to-drive system, including a minimum learning period and restrictions for newly-qualified drivers, such as a late night curfew," said its director of campaigns Jason Wakeford.

The move follows a series of changes to the rules for learning to drive.

From December, learners will be tested on their ability to use a sat nav and complete 20 minutes of independent driving rather than the current ten.

According to provisional Government statistics, there were 1,810 deaths on the UK's roads in the year to September 2016, roughly the same as the previous year.