18/08/17 - Charity backs decision to allow learner drivers onto motorways:
Independent road safety charity IAM RoadSmart has welcomed confirmation of the Government’s plan to allow learner drivers on motorways to improve safety, saying they are long overdue and should make a significant difference to accident rates amongst new and inexperienced drivers.
The plans were last weekend by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, following a consultation on the idea at the end of 2016. The changes take place in England, Wales and Scotland only from 2018.
Learners will only be allowed on motorways with an approved driving instructor in a dual control car. The Government says this will provide a broader range of real life experiences and better prepare learners for independent driving when they pass their test.
Currently learners cannot drive on a motorway until after they have passed their test. This means the first experience of motorway driving for many is as a nervous novice without the guidance of a driving instructor or the safety of a dual control car.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “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 that should deliver confident new drivers who are much better able to cope with complex smart motorways.”
However Jason Wakeford, Director of Campaigns for Brake, another troad safety charity, urges more caution and would like to see young drivers pass their tests before driving on a motorway.
He said: “Young drivers are involved in a high proportion of crashes that kill and seriously injure because of inexperience and the tendency of many to take risks. Improved training before and after getting a licence is essential to improving road safety.
“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. This graduated driver licensing approach has helped dramatically reduce road casualties in countries including Australia, and could save lives here in the UK too.
“There should also be better access to affordable public transport so fewer young people see starting driving in their teens as a necessity.”