Road Safety News

Survey shows ‘overwhelming’ support for motorway driving lessons

Tuesday 20th June 2017

Image: Highways England, via Flickr.

A new RAC survey suggests an ‘overwhelming majority’ of motorists believe learner drivers should be allowed to take driving lessons on the motorway.

79% of the 2,000-plus motorists questioned were in favour of the Government’s proposal to let learners take driving lessons on the motorway, with an approved instructor in a dual-controlled car.

The RAC survey results were published today (20 June), with the outcome of a DfT and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) consultation due to be announced imminently.

Under the proposals, first announced by the DVSA in December 2016, motorways lessons will be voluntary and it will be up to the driving instructor to decide when the learner driver is sufficiently competent to have a motorway lesson.

The RAC says with the introduction of new concepts including smart motorways, now is a good time to implement the policy, but says the Government should publish guidance on how to assess whether a learner is sufficiently competent to drive on a motorway.

The RAC adds the ‘overwhelming’ support is not surprising given that 49% of those surveyed said that they did not feel the practical and theory tests adequately prepared them for motorway driving. 39% said they felt partially prepared, with only 14% considering themselves to have been fully prepared.

Asked to recall how they felt the first time they used a motorway, 42% of respondents said they were somewhat nervous and 16% admitted to being very nervous.

Pete Williams, the RAC’s road safety spokesman, said: “The RAC supports the proposal to allow learner drivers to have the option of motorway driving lessons. We would not, however, be in favour of making such a measure mandatory as many learner drivers do not live in an area which has access to the motorway network.

“Statistically, motorways are the UK’s safest roads, but they do present significant risks by virtue of the fact that motorists are in a high-speed environment. Such high speeds can make a driver who has recently passed their practical test feel nervous and more vulnerable the first time they venture on to these types of roads.”

Want to know more about learner drivers and road safety?
Online library of research and reports etc - visit the Road Safety Knowledge Centre
Key facts and summaries of research reports - visit the Road Safety Observatory (young drivers)


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I am quite surprised that so few new drivers have actually any experience of driving in the rain and other poor weather conditions but also driving out on the country roads which brings in quite a different driving attitude and abilities. Many pass the DSA test in towns and within days or weeks they have an accidents out on rural road because they have had no tuition on them.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

I suppose if one thinks learners should be at least educated in M/way driving if not actually experience it, the same could be said for other driving circumstances, not covered during normal driving instruction and the test, such as driving on ice and snow, which will be more likely encountered in more some parts of the country than others, in the same way that M/ways are. Even now, come the winter a lot of drivers don't know how to cope with snow and ice and sometimes abandon their vehicles when they didn't need to - and crash as well sometimes.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

I like the RAC's stance that this proposal is suggested good practice, but not suggesting it be compulsory. My nearest motorway is two hours away, and in some parts of the UK it would be a much longer journey. Driving instructors should be encouraged to prepare their students for lots of situations the candidate may only face occasionally.

When I met my wife (a Londoner) I had to show her what full beam headlights were, and how to operate them!
Martin: Suffolk

Agree (5) | Disagree (0)

I agree Hugh but dont get me started on the picture and of all the obvious vehicles that are tailgating will you.
Bob Craven Lancs

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Perhaps the instructor could drive a motorway with the pupil alongside, observing, with a commentary?

Incidentally, looking at the photo above, a motorway is a lot more than a typical dual carriageway, as someone has suggested!
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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After overtaking a pupil on a Belgium motorway last Saturday I cannot see the problem.
Gareth Surrey

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

All drivers should have had to take a motorway test before being allowed on to this very different driving environment. Especially the woman who, driving at approx 55 mph, suddenly moved into the middle lane, for no discernible reason, just as I was overtaking her. She either didn't see me, or was oblivious to the idea that you can't suddenly force another driver to brake very hard. Had I been less awake we'd have been sitting next to each other!
Montagu M, Lancashire

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I agree.
m.worthington Manchester

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

I don't really understand the fear about motorways. Just because the signage is blue and the lines at the edge of the road are thicker doesn't necessarily mean that rabid dogs will come out and bite everyone.

They're normally just dual carriageways after all. Given the proliferation of smart motorways you're also normally likely to be able to travel faster on normal dual carriageways too.

Roll on the changes I'd say. Heck, make them mandatory, let's get rid of the "motorway is bad and nasty" myth.
David Weston, Corby

Agree (6) | Disagree (2)