Learner Drivers Allowed On Motorways From 2018

Why law is changing to permit learner drivers on motorways, plus reaction from a new driver and a road safety expert

Learner drivers can practice their technique on motorways throughout England, Scotland and Wales after a change of law in 2018, The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency revealed. There will be terms, though. The cars must be dual control and tuition must come via approved instructors. The Agency hopes learners will then:

  • broaden their experience before the practical test
  • learn to use motorways correctly
  • practise driving at higher speeds
  • apply theoretical knowledge

Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, said: "Younger drivers are up to seven times more likely to be killed or seriously injured compared with drivers over twenty-five. Lack of experience is an important factor. Allowing learners to drive on motorways in a supportive environment will help develop a practical understanding of how to use our motorways safely - before driving independently.” 

There are further points to note:

  • learners will not be legally required to have motorway tuition
  • instructors will decide when learners have the experience and confidence to respond positively to motorway tuition
  • instructors will choose whether to keep a rooftop box in position or remove it (based on manufacturer recommendations)
  • L plates will be displayed front and rear
  • trainee instructors will not be allowed to teach on motorways
  • learner motorcyclists will still be banned from motorways
  • the precise date of the law change will be confirmed soon

New driver welcomes change

Leonnie Wharton, twenty-five, from Wigan, is a newly qualified motorist and supports the change of law. She told the BBC: "I passed my test a week ago and have been on the motorway twice on my own. It was quite a scary experience. I'd read up on the theory - but actually doing it is completely different”, Ms Wharton claimed.

Practical, pre-test, motorway tuition would have helped her feel more confident, she suggested. "I'm apprehensive about doing it again on my own, but I don't want to get to the point where I actively avoid the motorway”, she said. She concluded it is “ridiculous” that she was unable to have pre-test motorway tuition.

Safety expert claims learners should be allowed on motorways

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy and Research also supports the change. He explained: “It makes no sense that new drivers learn by trial and - sometimes fatal - error how to use our fastest and most important roads.”

“Allowing learners on motorways with an approved instructor is a sensible and measured solution. It should deliver confident new drivers who are much better able to cope with complex smart motorways.”