Learner Drivers Take to the Motorway
By: Georgia Fitzgerald
30 May 2018
From Monday 4th June 2018, learner drivers will be able to take driving lessons on motorways in England, Scotland and Wales. According to Gov.uk, this will help to make sure more drivers know how to use motorways safely.
The news is much to the delight of learner drivers, driving instructors and existing drivers, as the motorway seems to be the one area of driving that no one has ever understood how to use correctly, which in turn causes heavy-pile ups and collisions that could be avoided if taught. With the law changing in just a few short days, there are various changes that you need to know.
The changes are being made to allow learner drivers to:
- Improve their confidence to drive on the motorway unsupervised after passing their test.
- Receive training on how to join and leave the motorway, overtake and use lanes correctly.
- Gain a broader driving experience before taking their driving test.
- Understand what to do if a vehicle breaks down on a motorway.
- Understand motorway specific traffic signs.
- Practise driving at higher speeds.
Presently, you can only have motorway lessons after you have passed your driving test, when some newly-qualified drivers take lessons through the voluntary Pass Plus scheme.
How the change will work
It is important to note; any motorway lessons will be voluntary. It will be up to the driving instructor to decide when the learner driver is competent enough to tackle this type of driving.
All learner drivers will need to be accompanied by an approved driving instructor on the motorway, in a car fitted with dual controls.
Image credit: xtock/Shutterstock
- The change only applies to learner drivers of cars – not motorcyclists.
- Motorway driving is not being introduced to the driving test as part of this change.
- Trainee driving instructors will not be allowed to take learner drivers on the motorway.
Driving near learner drivers on the motorway
As with any vehicle on the motorway, keep a safe distance from a learner driver in front of you. Increase the gap on wet or icy roads, or in fog.
You should always be patient with learner drivers, as they may not be so skilful at anticipating and responding to events.
Until the law changes on June 4th, it is still illegal for a learner driver to drive on a motorway.
Image credit: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock
For young or inexperienced drivers, this new change may be daunting. Especially because, motorway driving can often feel scary even after you have passed!
To help alleviate any fear or concern, Click4Reg.co.uk has highlighted the following motorway driving advice, using information from Ingenie.com:
Match your speed
The key to joining a motorway safely is to match the speed of the cars already travelling. Accelerate as you drive on the slip road and follow the usual ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre’ procedure to find an appropriate gap in the moving traffic. Vehicles should allow space for you, but be prepared to slow down if you need to. Trust your instincts.
Use your mirrors
Always make sure your mirrors are clean and correctly positioned, as they are hugely important in motorway driving. Check your mirrors as you join the motorway and every time you change lanes. Don’t forget to check your blind spots too! With traffic moving at top speeds you can never be too careful.
Stick to the limit
The national speed limit on a motorway is 70 mph – but, always look out for exceptions to this. For example, there may be road works with signs indicating you need to adjust your speed and slow down. Breaking the speed limit is a waste of time and petrol, not to mention dangerous and illegal. So stick to 70 as a maximum and stay in an appropriate lane for your speed.
Photo credit: Jaroslaw Kilian/Shutterstock
Once you have joined the motorway, you should stay in the left-hand lane unless you’re overtaking slower moving traffic. If you do decide to overtake, use the usual ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre’ procedure when moving in and out of lanes and avoid sitting in the middle or outside of lanes. Keep your distance from large vehicles, like lorries changing lanes as they have much larger blind spots and may not see you.
Use your hazards
If you come up to slow or non-moving traffic on a motorway, or any kind of hazard or obstruction, it’s a good idea to use your hazard lights to warn drivers behind you that they should slow down. Likewise, in case of a breakdown, move onto the hard shoulder as soon as possible and apply your hazard lights.
Once you have stopped, call for help using your mobile or one of the orange emergency phones at the side of the road. These phones are numbered and will let the Highway Agency know exactly where you are – follow the arrows at the side of the road to find the nearest phone.
Remember, the biggest risk when you break down on the motorway is being hit by other moving traffic, so get out of your car and wait on the verge until help arrives.
Exit the motorway properly
Always plan your route in advance and keep an eye out for the junction signs – these let you know how far it is to the junction you need. When you are close to the exit you need, move into the left lane. There will be a 3-line countdown when you are 300 yards away – the markers are then repeated at 200 yards and 100 yards.
Signal left at the 300-marker to inform other drivers of your intention, but maintain your speed. You shouldn’t slow down until you turn off the motorway to keep the flow of traffic moving.