Learner drivers will be allowed to drive on motorways from Monday, June 4.
Here’s all you need to know if you’re learning to drive, teaching someone, or simply a fully qualified driver who uses the busy arteries.
When can learner drivers start to drive on motorways?
The law change comes into force on Monday, June 4, so expect to see L-plates joining the carriage from then.
So, all learners can drive on the motorway from this date?
Yes – but there are a couple of provisos. The student driver will need to be accompanied by an approved driving instructor – not just a relative or mate with a full licence – and the car must be fitted with dual controls.
Does this mean motorway driving is now part of the driving test?
There were major changes to how the driving test is taken that came into effect on December 4, 2017, but motorway driving is not a compulsory part of the test.
Lessons taken on the motorway are voluntary. It will be the responsibility of the driving instructor to decide if the student is competent enough to drive on a busy motorway.
Does this mean that learner motorcyclists will be able to drive on motorways?
No! Even if the biker is part of a training session, the rule change applies only to learners in cars.
What about the Highway Code?
The Highway Code, Rule 253, will be updated to take into account the change for car drivers with a provisional licence – and the conditions that accompany the new directive.
Are there any special rules for how other motorists drive near learner drivers?
There are no specific rules surrounding driving alongside learners on motorways, but official advice from the Gov.UK website says: “You should always be patient with learner drivers. They may not be so skilful at anticipating and responding to events.”
How will I tell if a car on the motorway is being driven by a learner?
If a learner vehicle has a roof box fitted with ‘L’ symbols on it, there will be no need to add separate L-plates elsewhere on the vehicle – so keep an eye out for these vehicles.
However, the instructor can remove the box for motorway driving, in which case, traditional L-plates must be fitted to the front and rear of the vehicle.
Why are learners being allowed on motorways?
The lessons will let instructors teach students about how to join and leave motorways, the correct way to overtake and when to change lanes.
Learners will also get experience and training to cover driving on smart motorways and what to do in the event of a breakdown in sections without an emergency hard shoulder.
Does everyone think it is a good idea?
No. A survey found that more than 56 per cent of Brits think the move is ‘dangerous’. People think the inexperienced driver could cause accidents, or drive too slowly and cause additional congestion on already-clogged motorways.
What do the lawmakers say?
Transport Minister, Jesse Norman, said: “Allowing learners to drive on motorways, with the support of an experienced driving instructor, will help them to develop a practical understanding of how to use motorways safely, and it will prepare them to drive on them alone.”