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New government plans for increased road safety have seen suggestions for learner drivers in England and Wales to be given motorway lessons before they are able to pass their driving test. Currently, learner drivers are not permitted to drive on motorways even with an experienced driving instructor present, and although motorway lessons are available from many driving schools once a learner has passed the driving test, these are optional, meaning that many new drivers venture onto motorways with no experience driving on them whatsoever.

Reduce Motorway Fear

Director of the RAC Foundation, Steve Gooding, welcomed the idea of pre-test compulsory motorway lessons for learner drivers. He said that although motorways are by far the safest of the roads to drive on, they can be quite intimidating for novice drivers due to the high speeds and number of cars. Being accompanied down the slip road for the first time will be more confidence-inducing for learner drivers, and give them the necessary experience needed driving on a motorway before venturing out on their own as a new driver. Many new drivers experience motorways for the first time in a single-control car with a friend or parent, which can be nerve-wracking in itself. Having a qualified instructor and the safety of dual controls can help to give learner drivers the best preparation for motorway driving.

£2m Research Project

Along with the addition of motorway lessons before a learner driver takes the driving test, the UK government are also planning a research project worth £2m regarding how to make the whole learning to drive experience better. Improving motoring education for both learner and novice drivers of both cars and motorcycles is a priority, and plans include strengthening compulsory training, supporting experience of a broader range of driving situations and possible plans to restructure the cost of the practical test. Currently, fewer than half of all learner drivers pass their driving test at the first attempt, a statistic which the UK government hopes that these new plans will improve.

Safer Driving

Further to the proposed plans for improving driving education, the UK government are also cracking down on unsafe driving with a series of proposed law changes. Drivers caught using a handheld phone at the wheel currently get three penalty points on their license along with a £100 fine – however with the new plans in place, penalty points will be increased from three to four and the fine will rise to £150 in the hope that drivers will be more discouraged to use a phone when on the road. There are also proposed changes to laws in order to improve cycle safety, with additional funding for extra cycle safety training in schools. There will also be extra efforts to prevent drug driving, known as the ‘hidden killer’ with tougher penalties and devices similar to the breathalysers used for drink driving in order to determine whether or not a driver is under the influence of drugs.

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