It has been announced that from next year learner drivers will be allowed to practice their driving on the motorway.
FINALLY. In my opinion this is a vital skill that is missing from the current driving programme. It is clear that young drivers struggle when they first pass their test and take to the motorway for the first time.
Those aged 19 and under make up around 1.5% of the total drivers on our roads, yet are involved in 9% of the total accidents (BBC).
With only their theory knowledge to hand, young drivers are expected to navigate the motorway system, often alone, which leaves some making dangerous mistakes that can put themselves and others at risk. They can often be to blame for my top 10 most annoying habits on the motorway!
Yet the Drivers and Vehicle Standard Agency are still not making it easy. To drive on the motorway as a learner; you must be accompanied by an approved driving instructor and the car must have dual control. Even then, the lessons are voluntary and it’s up to the instructor whether you take them or not. Plus, motorway driving will not be part of the driving test. This is understandable, as you often have to drive for miles to reach one, but this just highlights how the lessons should therefore be compulsory, not voluntary. It shouldn’t be a huge issue, as less than 1% of us say we learnt to drive without any professional tuition (gov.uk) and it makes sense that your first drive on a motorway is under controlled and supportive conditions. This ensures you’re prepared once you’ve passed your test.
And although progress has been made, it’s still not being taken seriously enough. I think it should be compulsory to for learners to have at least two motorway lessons before they take their test. For now, I advise that once you’ve passed your test, take a confident and experienced driver with you when you plan to drive on a motorway for the first time. It is worth repeating this at night and in poor driving conditions too, as the spray in wet conditions significantly reduces visibility and can be daunting for new drivers. Remember, stopping distances are doubled in wet conditions so make sure you leave at least a 4 second gap to the car in front.
I hope that learners do take this opportunity next year to practice motorway driving. It would really make a difference if more people used motorway correctly, both for safety and for traffic flow.
For (much) more information see: www.gov.uk
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