Learner drivers will be allowed on Britain’s motorways, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced.
A law change will mean novice motorists can take lessons on motorways with an approved driving instructor in a dual control car from next year. It is hoped this will provide a broader range of real life experiences and better prepare learners for independent driving when they pass their test.
Mr Grayling said: “The UK has some of safest roads in the world and we want to make them even safer.
“Younger drivers are up to seven times more likely to be killed or seriously injured compared with drivers over 25 and lack of experience is an important factor.
“Allowing learners to drive on motorways in a supportive environment will help them develop a practical understanding of how to use motorways safely before driving independently.”
The Department for Transport consulted on the measure earlier this year and received “wide support” from learner drivers and driving instructors.
Learners are currently not allowed on motorways until they have passed their test.
The Government hopes the new legislation will be passed by Parliament next year.
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said some drivers find it “daunting” to use motorways for the first time.
“Giving learners the option to gain valuable experience on our fastest and busiest roads should further improve safety and enhance the confidence of new drivers,” he said.
AA president Edmund King described a lack of motorway experience as the “Achilles heel” of learner driver tuition.
He went on: “Almost half of motorists know friends or family who avoid driving on motorways. Fears have increased since the introduction of smart motorways without hard shoulders.”
But road safety charity Brake warned that the new measure does not go for enough to improve driving standards.
Its director of campaigns Jason Wakeford said: “Rather than allowing learner drivers on the motorway, there should instead be a requirement for all newly-qualified drivers to receive mandatory lessons, including on the motorway, once they’ve passed their test.
“There needs to be much wider reform to the learning-to-drive system, including a minimum learning period and restrictions for newly-qualified drivers, such as a late night curfew.”