Learner drivers will be allowed to have lessons on UK motorways from today as long as they are with their instructor and in a dual-controlled car.
The change has been introduced in an effort to help learners gain more experience and reduce the number of serious accidents involving those aged between 17 and 24.
The move follows years of pressure from road safety groups over what they argued was a long-running safety omission. Among those supporting the law change are the AA and RAC Foundation.
While motorways are the safest type of road to travel on, the bar on learners using them meant they tended to be tackled for the first time by newly qualified drivers who would often be alone in the car. Post-test motorway courses are available to teach the specific skills needed for driving on them, but government research found that only a very small percentage of new drivers were taking these.
A fifth of all fatalities on Britain’s roads in 2016 involved crashes where a driver was aged 17-24, despite those drivers making up just 7% of all licence holders, Department for Transport figures show.
Road safety minister Jesse Norman said: “Britain’s roads are among the safest in the world, but road collisions remain the second biggest killer of young people.
“Allowing learner drivers to have motorway lessons with a qualified road safety expert will help more young drivers to gain the skills and experience they need to drive safely on motorways.”
As many as 8% of licence holders avoided motorways for at least six months after passing their test, an AA poll of more than 20,000 motorists suggests. More than a quarter said they felt scared when they did drive on a motorway for the first time.
Edmund King, director of the AA Charitable Trust, said: “Young drivers are drastically over-represented in crashes. This change, which will help broaden the opportunities they have while learning, is very positive.”
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