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Motorway ahead: lessons for learners from 2018

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Driving instructors, Learning to drive

Overhead shot of traffic on motorway

As you’ll have seen, it’s been confirmed that learner drivers will be allowed to have motorway driving lessons with an approved driving instructor (ADI) in a dual-controlled car from 2018.

Do take a look at the announcement, as it explains how the changes will work.

I’m sure that many of you will be pleased about being able to finally get on the motorway with your pupils before they’ve passed their test. We think it’s a vital step in making sure more drivers know how to use motorways safely.

How this will affect Pass Plus

By allowing learner drivers on motorways, we aren’t trying to get rid of Pass Plus.

It’s still a good way for newly-qualified drivers to improve their skills and drive more safely. It does cover other types of driving which you’ll have already included in their lessons, including rural roads, dual carriageways and driving at night.

We’ll continue to support Pass Plus. If you haven’t already, you can register to teach Pass Plus.

Dual-controlled cars

Any lessons with a learner driver on the motorway will have to be in a dual-controlled car. The consultation on the plans asked for views on whether this should apply to specially-adapted cars for people with a disability.

As a result of the feedback, it’s been decided that specially-adapted cars will need to have dual-controls when used for motorway lessons for a learner.

Asking new drivers what they think

The Department for Transport held some focus groups with new drivers to find out what they thought about the plans. Here's what a few of them said:

I think that would be a really good idea actually. It would save you from panicking when going on the motorway for the first time… with an instructor it would just be the next step.

It’s hard to think of a downside to it, to be honest, it just makes sense. You’ve got to go on the motorway anyway, better to have it with an instructor than one week after you’ve passed your test on your own.

I think it’s good, you’re going to have to go on a motorway at some point, so it makes sense to go on with someone who knows what they are doing.

Many of them thought that they'd have had the confidence to go on the motorway sooner if they’d had motorway driving lessons as a learner.

Some also felt that it would make them feel more confident in their motorway driving.

If you’d already learnt, I wouldn’t be as fearful of the motorway so I’d be more confident to go on it [sooner] than if I hadn’t taken the lesson.

100% yes, if I’d have gone out with my driving instructor on the M1 I would have been 100% confident to go on it again, but because I haven’t been on it you just leave it, don’t you, until you really need to.

So while motorway lessons will be voluntary, we think that a lot of learners drivers will want to take up the opportunity. However, we know it's not going to be practical in every part of the country, where access to the motorway could be several hours away.

Guidance on giving motorway lessons

If you’ve never provided motorway tuition before, we’d recommend you look through element 3.1.4 of the national standard for driving cars as it covers what drivers need to be able to do and what they must know and understand.

Remember, any research, development or training you do in this area counts as continuing professional development.

We’ll also be working with the National Associations Strategic Partnership (NASP) and Highways England to produce some guidance, which we’ll share with you soon.

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  1. Comment by Jack posted on

    No. This will not help.

    Of course, once again the best of intentions from the DVSA. In thirty years of suggesting and encouraging, I can count on one hand the number of just passed pupils that have taken up the offer of a motorway lesson.

    This will be the conversation from pupils leading up to their test: ‘Is it part of the driving test?’ - ‘Er, no it isn’t’, but it is a good idea’ – ‘No thanks then Governor’

    Grade the licence to include motorway tuition and/or a test (If they want to use motorways). And then you achieve what your trying to do; getting safer drivers on the motorway. Until then you’re just playing around the edges. Goes down well as a sound bite for the general public, but that’s all. The take up from learners I am convinced will be minimal.

    Jack Woodward

  2. Comment by Martin Butchers ADI posted on

    100% with you. Question Instructor, would you like to take a motorway lesson as a learner? Answer.Learner, no, I could be practicing my bay park for my test. Instructor for over 35 years and all the changes make no difference in fact some have made it worse. Black box when they pass and monitor them with a carrot and stick approach. After two years of being monitored some may keep driving safe. I could go on but no one is listening.

  3. Comment by Angus McFadden posted on

    It's great news! Even if it is about 50 years overdue.

    If nothing else, it will help remove the mystique and drama associated with motorways. Hopefully, a lot of pupils will see that - all things considered - they're no big deal after all.

    However, let's be careful not to talk this up to try and make it appear to support other things - like the forthcoming changes to the driving test, for example. Taking a spin or two down the motorway on driving lessons is not going to miraculously cut road deaths, particularly since motorways are not where most deaths happen.

    I already take all of mine on several long runs, taking in roads as close to being motorway-like as possible, and these are NOT on the test routes. No one has ever questioned that, and I will not be treating motorway sessions as isolated events in order to make it into an issue now. They will be part of an overall lesson which just happens to include a trip along a section the M1 so we can learn stuff in different locations.

    If people can't get to a motorway, fine. Don't do them. If, like me, they can... well, just speaking for myself, great! I'm going to.

  4. Comment by A H S posted on

    What about learners who don't live anywhere near a motorway? It's 90 miles from where I live to the nearest one, and nobody could afford a four or five hour lesson just to get there and practise.

  5. Comment by Graham Carroll posted on

    I really don't why everyone seems to think motorway driving is any different to national speed limit dual carriageway ways, if anything they are far less intimidating. They have longer slip rds, no traffic turning right across them, no slow tractors/job etc. My learners often drive on the A19, A174 and quite honestly they are much trickier that motorways. Once again we are trying to cram too much into learner training at the expense of perfecting the basics, which will keep them safe for any future driving, on any roads.

  6. Comment by Jackie Willis posted on

    Agree with you 100%. Like you, I take my learners all over the place and I don't even know the test routes! If they can't drive confidently on ANY road, then I haven't done my job properly. As for motorways, I definitely think it's a good idea for those who live right on the doorstop of a motorway, or motorways in some cases, as they can learn to use them safely with an ADI. I live nowhere near a motorway, so this makes no difference to me, but we do have dual carriageways that closely mimic them, so that is how I teach m'way driving, with discussion on the differences. And we mustn't forget there is a lot more to motorway driving than just driving on them. Drivers now meet 'Smart' m'ways, with the rules for using hard shoulder; variable speed limits; lanes closed; messages on the gantries are many and varied! So we mustn't run away with the idea that we have 'covered m'ways' just because the learner has driven on one. The real teaching is in the discussion afterwards and awareness of the issues NOT met during the 'on m'way' driving lesson.

  7. Comment by Angus McFadden posted on

    Incidentally, I can't get my head around anyone saying that it's a BAD idea.

    In the absolute theoretical worst case, the benefits are neutral. The reality is that even a worst case will mean the benefits are slightly positive.

    If we train people to drive, we should train them on as many different road types as we can. If geography prevents going on motorways (as it already prevents city and fast dual carriageway for some instructors), then so be it. The daft thing is that it's taken so long to change the Law.

    There is absolutely nothing inherently negative about this.

  8. Comment by Stephen Seale ADI posted on

    Your enthusiasm for this stupidity Angus, is blinding you the obvious total impracticality of enforcement. How will anyone who's job is to enforce the law KNOW whether a learner driving on a motorway is accompanied by and ADI or whether the car has dual controls - telepathy?

    There is no need for this rule, someone is trying to score points in the eyes of an un-educated public.

    • Replies to Stephen Seale ADI>

      Comment by Angus McFadden posted on

      So are you saying that learners should not be allowed on motorways?

      Where on earth does "enforcement" enter into the equation? If some numpty wants to go on the motorway now without having a licence that allows it then they will. Issues of "enforcement" are the same now as they will be when the Law changes.

      The big difference is that the vast majority of law-abiding drivers WILL have the option to be trained on motorways, where previously - you know, those Victorian times which have managed to survive somehow into the 21st Century - they didn't.

      I welcome this long overdue change, which has been rumbling on ever since I was learning to drive.

      My job is to teach people who pay me money to learn how to drive safely. Not to worry about every nutcase who breaks laws just for the fun of it.

    • Replies to Stephen Seale ADI>

      Comment by Angus McFadden posted on

      Incidentally, a quick Google search brought up various news articles and forum posts where learners have been caught driving on motorways - often unaccompanied. One was clocked at 132mph.

      Other situations involving police chases often accrue so many other more serious offences in built up areas that the fact that part of the chase may have ended up on a motorway is lost from the details under the general heading of driving otherwise in accordance with the licence entitlements.

      The fly-on-the-wall cop shows on cable and satellite show many motorway chases where the bad guy is a spotty-faced urchin who is highly likely not to have bothered spending up to £1,000 taking lessons and a driving test, what with his existing list of previous crimes.

      And these are only the ones that are caught.

      Traffic policing is seriously under-funded and it's getting worse. But it's nothing directly to do with legitimate learners being legitimately taught how to use motorways.

  9. Comment by Rob posted on

    Loving the feedback from Angus and Jackie - clearly driver training professionals.

    Graham, I agree that many dual carriageways are much more tricky than motorways and indeed significantly more dangerous. However, I cannot agree with 'Once again we are trying to cram too much into learner training at the expense of perfecting the basics...'. In my book it's simple, the more the content, the more time needs to be allocated to it

    Hugely disappointed, as I often am, by attitudes of some other ADIs.
    The complete disrespect for individuals and organisations who through research and evidence look to progress safer driving absolutely astounds me and makes me question why such individuals are ADIs, and more so, are allowed to be ADIs.

    Learners on motorways will be required to display L-Plates.
    ADIs are required to display the ADI licence in the tuition car, so a fair indication to enforcement officers that the driver is being accompanied by an ADI.

    The only time that the need to establish whether dual-controls are fitted is if the enforcement officers determine that the L-driver is driving in a manner as to be inconveniencing or dangerous to other road users.

    Professional and quality ADIs will embrace the change and do a great job. The ordinary ADI will continue to moan and continue to offer inferior service to an unsuspecting public.

  10. Comment by mr c Stephens-Davies posted on

    Ive been learning to drive from the age of 25 and no one has put me in for my test at all. As ism now 52 and that's all these diving instructors have done is to steel my money each week . As its not funny or fair when it costs me £55 pounds each week . As its all about money making and it depends on the nit picking examiners on the day as some can be really funny as I know some that driving instructors are in with the examiners. As regards to pass this one fail that one so that they can keep the learns on the books for longer . As I know full well what goes on as I,ve seen it happen with my own eyes