Closed consultation

Allowing learner drivers to take lessons on motorways

Published 30 December 2016

Foreword

Andrew Jones, Road Safety Minister.
Andrew Jones, Road Safety Minister

Learning to drive is an important life skill for many people, helping them access employment and education as well as social and vocational activities. For young people it is often seen as a rite of passage; part of the transition to adulthood and independence.

British roads are among the safest in the world and we are proud of our record but I believe we can improve on this. Last year 1,732 people died on our roads. With over 90% of road traffic collisions caused by human error, advances in technology will help reduce road casualties in future: we are a world leader in developing and testing connected and autonomous vehicles.

However, I want to make sure that the current generation of young adults about to start their driving career have the best possible introduction to what we want to be a lifetime of safe driving. Younger drivers are currently around 5 to 7 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured compared with car drivers aged 25 or over.

The proposal set out in this consultation, to allow learner driver to take lessons on motorways, will enable novice drivers to experience the broadest possible range of driving experiences in a supportive environment, helping them to be better, safer, independent drivers. Motorway lessons will be voluntary and only permitted where the learner is accompanied by an approved driving instructor in a dual-controlled car.

More and varied practice helps drivers to be safer on the roads and encouraging more people to learn how to use motorways properly will benefit all drivers. Motorways are the arteries of the British economy and we need to keep them moving.

This measure will complement the other measures we are putting into place, such as updating the practical driving test and the £2 million research programme which I announced in the Road Safety Statement and which will identify and refine the most promising interventions to help improve the safety of new drivers.

Andrew Jones
Road Safety Minister

Executive summary

Introduction

Great Britain has some of the safest roads in the world and casualty rates have fallen considerably over the last ten years for all drivers. Young drivers aged between 17 and 24 are statistically over-represented in road accidents compared with drivers over 25 and lack of experience is considered to be an important factor.

Young driver involvement in collisions compared with miles driven.
Figure 1: young driver involvement in collisions compared with miles driven, 2015

120 young car drivers died in 2015, of these 80% occurred on rural roads, 16% on urban roads and just 4% on motorways. Motorways are the safest roads to drive on. They are constructed to a higher level of design standards in comparison with other roads; there are limited access points, usually by slip road minimising the likelihood of junction collisions, and the separation of traffic in different directions means that head-on crashes are virtually eliminated.

Of course, driving on a motorway is very different from driving on most other roads, it requires a specific set of skills as well as correct understanding of the rules and protocols. Because of the high speeds at which people travel on motorways, any collision is likely to have a severe outcome.

Many new drivers say they are scared of driving on motorways and avoid using them. Motorway lessons are available for people who have passed their test but uptake appears to be very low.

Learner drivers are currently prohibited from driving on motorways. We propose to amend this law so that motorway driving can be incorporated into a learner driver’s pre-test instruction.

International research shows that increasing the amount of real world practice can better prepare learners for independent driving. We want to reduce death and injury on our roads and are therefore proposing this deregulatory measure to enable learner drivers to have lessons on motorways to:

  • gain a broad range of experience before driving independently
  • develop a practical understanding of how to use motorways safely

The proposals in this consultation document apply to England, Wales and Scotland. The government is responsible for driver testing and training and it is responsible for making the regulations governing the use of motorways in England and Wales. Nothing in this consultation document applies to Northern Ireland where different legislation applies.

The proposal concerns cars only and would not apply to motorcyclists.

Who should read this document?

  • approved driving instructors
  • driving schools
  • anyone who is learning to drive or intending to learn to drive
  • parents of young learner drivers
  • other motorway users
  • insurers
  • road safety organisations
  • motoring organisations
  • local authority road safety officers

How to respond

The consultation period began on 30 December 2016 and will run until 17 February 2017. Please ensure that your response reaches us by the closing date.

You are invited to respond to the consultation via the online form.

Alternatively, you may send your response by email to learnersonmotorways@dft.gsi.gov.uk.

Or by post to:

Learners on Motorways Consultation
Department for Transport
RULIS Division, Zone 3/29
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
London SW1P 4DR

When responding, please state whether you are responding as an individual or representing the views of an organisation. If responding on behalf of a larger organisation, please make it clear who the organisation represents and, where applicable, how the views of members were assembled.

Freedom of information

Information provided in response to this consultation, including personal information, may be subject to publication or disclosure in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) or the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

If you want information that you provide to be treated as confidential, please be aware that, under the FOIA, there is a statutory Code of Practice with which public authorities must comply and which deals, amongst other things, with obligations of confidence.

In view of this it would be helpful if you could explain to us why you regard the information you have provided as confidential. If we receive a request for disclosure of the information, we will take full account of your explanation, but we cannot give an assurance that confidentiality can be maintained in all circumstances. An automatic confidentiality disclaimer generated by your IT system will not, of itself, be regarded as binding on the department.

The department will process your personal data in accordance with the Data Protection Act (DPA) and in the majority of circumstances this will mean that your personal data will not be disclosed to third parties.

What will happen next?

A summary of responses, including the next steps, will be published (within 3 months of the consultation closing) on GOV.UK.

Paper copies will be available on request.

1. Learner drivers and motorways

1.1 Background

There are 2,270 miles of motorway in Great Britain. Motorways provide a safe and efficient means of transportation.

In 2015, 66.5 billion vehicle miles were driven on the motorway in Great Britain - equivalent to driving to the sun and back 357 times.

The position in current law is that people who hold a provisional driving licence are not allowed to drive on motorways. This means that learner drivers cannot go on motorways as part of their conventional course of pre-test learning.

They can go on dual carriageway roads, some of which have a speed limit of 70 miles per hour and share some of the same characteristics as motorways, but they cannot drive on motorways.

Skills for safe motorway driving

There are specific skills associated with safe motorway driving. Due to the high speed of traffic, it is necessary to scan the road much further ahead than on other types of road.

Situations can change rapidly and drivers need to be able to plan their manoeuvres and positioning well in advance.

Learning to drive process

The process of learning to drive is intended to equip drivers with the necessary skills to be able to drive on motorways and dual carriageways.

This is reflected in the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s (DVSA) ‘National standard for driving cars and light vans’ which describes the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to be a safe and responsible driver of a car.

Theoretical knowledge

Learner drivers are expected to acquire a theoretical understanding of how to drive on motorways safely and this is included in the theory test.

The multiple-choice part of the theory test includes questions about motorway driving and since 1 September 2016, the hazard perception test includes at least one motorway or dual carriageway clip in every test.

DVSA is creating more motorway clips with a view to increasing their inclusion in the hazard perception test.

Practical experience

The current system does not allow for learner drivers to obtain any practical experience of driving on motorways. However, DVSA recommends that new drivers take further tuition before driving on the motorway.

1.2 Post-test motorway tuition

Newly-qualified drivers can take a Pass Plus course designed to hone their driving skills. Pass Plus consists of 6 modules, one of which concerns driving on motorways, but uptake of the scheme is low.

In 2015/16 DVSA issued 21,210 Pass Plus certificates to new drivers who had completed the course. Over the preceding 12 months 718,711 learner drivers had passed their practical test, suggesting that around just 3% of new drivers had taken a Pass Plus course.

New drivers also have the option of taking a motorway lesson with an instructor once they have passed their practical driving test. Whilst many driving instructors will provide a stand-alone motorway lesson, informal views from the sector suggest that demand is low.

Reasons for low levels of post-test instruction

Reasons for the low levels of post-test instruction are likely to include the additional cost of a lesson. But drivers may also be reluctant, having passed the driving test, to put themselves back under the perceived scrutiny of an instructor.

Some new drivers may feel they have no need for motorway tuition, either because they have no plans to use a motorway or they consider themselves sufficiently competent.

Others may take informal advice from more experienced drivers and perhaps make their first trips accompanied. This is legal as long as the other driver does not receive payment for their services but there is no guarantee that they will pass on safe and accurate knowledge of motorway driving.

Most drivers venture onto motorways for the first time without having taken any formal tuition. The large volume of traffic moving at high speed can be daunting and this can be a nerve-wracking experience.

Whilst motorways share some characteristics with dual carriageway roads, they can present more challenging situations, for example in the number of lanes, slip road configurations and the distance between junctions.

Without any kind of instruction, even more experienced drivers can find they are not up to date with best practice motorway driving: around 8% of drivers fail to comply with the ‘red X’ on smart motorways which indicates that a lane is closed.

Signs above lanes on a smart motorway.
Figure 2: signs above lanes on a smart motorway - red X displayed in advance of incident

Highways England says that around a third of all casualty collisions are as a result of close following and failure to react.

46% of cars exceed the speed limit and other common problems include:

  • poor vehicle maintenance
  • running out of fuel
  • middle lane hogging
  • late changes near junctions

1.3 Novice drivers’ views on motorway driving

Research commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT) in 2013 suggested that driving on motorways was an area of concern for novice drivers, their parents and employers, and that there was an appetite for pre-test motorway lessons.

A DfT road safety research report in 2007 looked at young drivers’ perspectives on good driving and learning to drive. The report found that participants were sceptical about whether the process of learning for and passing the test contributed to good driving, for a number of reasons:

  • the kind of driving required in the test is believed to be very different from ‘real driving’
  • the learning experience leading up to the test is not thought to cover enough real situations - with motorway driving being a particular concern

Research by the AA driving school in 2009 also found that one in seven motorists surveyed said they lacked vital skills for motorway driving, rising to one in 5 among drivers who had passed their test within the last 5 years.

Comments from participants in DfT commissioned research.
Figure 3: comments from participants in DfT commissioned research

Motorway is the big one. The day you pass your test you can hit 80mph on a motorway which is a lot faster than you will have been taught.

Motorway driving should be taught. My friend thought it was so easy until she did it. She was really scared in the dark, with no lights. I felt comfortable in the daytime, but not at night.

Motorways need to be covered. Lots of my mates are scared of motorways. They don’t know about Pass Plus. I reckon it should be required.

It was only on the motorway that I realised how big the blind spot is - it does amaze me how much of a blind spot there is.

My friend doesn’t understand how motorways work. I say ‘that isn’t how motorways work pal’. But he doesn’t get that into his head.

1.4 Casualties on different road types

Using alternative roads to motorways may increase the length and duration of a trip but can also result in novice drivers spending more time on other roads, including rural roads which can be particularly challenging.

Narrow, sinuous roads with blind bends, dips and various distractions can and do prove to be fatal. 80% of young driver fatalities occurred on rural roads.

Figure 4: casualties by road type 2015 (all ages)

Casualty type Built-up Non built-up Motorway Total
Fatal 43% 51% 6% 100%
Serious 67% 30% 3% 100%
Slight 73% 22% 5% 100%
All 72% 23% 5% 100%

1.5 The proposal

Motorways are our safest roads, they are constructed and maintained to a high standard and when running well provide an efficient means of covering long distances, whether for personal or business use.

It’s important that drivers have the right skills and understanding of motorway driving.

Changing the law governing the use of motorways

We think that there is considerable benefit in changing the law governing the use of motorways by learner drivers. We propose that the only circumstances in which learner drivers would be allowed to drive on motorways are whilst:

  • accompanied by a fully qualified approved driving instructor (ADI)
  • in a car which has dual-controls

We think that taking a motorway lesson should be an optional part of learning to drive.

Instruction in the correct use of motorways

Whilst it is desirable that anyone using motorways should have received instruction in their correct use, it is not feasible to require this of all learner drivers.

Some areas are simply too far from a motorway for this to be practical and not all learner drivers will wish to take a motorway lesson.

Those who do not have a particular need to use motorways soon after passing their driving test may instead prefer to take a lesson at a later date.

The proposed change in the law would therefore simply provide an opportunity for learner drivers to experience driving on the motorway, before they take their driving test, if they so wish.

This consultation seeks views on these proposals.

1.6 Benefits and risks

Benefits

The main benefit of this change would be to enable learner drivers to experience a wider range of road and traffic environments before driving independently.

It would mean that motorway driving could become part of the conventional programme of learning to drive.

It is also important that learner drivers are exposed to different road and traffic conditions, and don’t just focus on the area local to their test centre.

Indeed, incorporating motorway driving may provide the opportunity for learner drivers to practise maintaining a high level of concentration for longer periods of time if a longer lesson is needed to allow for travel to and from a motorway.

The benefits of allowing learner drivers to take lessons on motorways include:

  • learner drivers get broader pre-test driving experience
  • learn how to use motorways safely; how to enter and leave, correct use of lanes and how to overtake, use of more complex interchanges and junctions
  • practice driving at higher speeds
  • put their theoretical knowledge into practice
  • experience driving where greater demands are placed on driver’s skill, observation, anticipation, planning and concentration
  • opportunity for ADIs to demonstrate importance of route planning, taking breaks and ensuring roadworthiness of vehicle

The overall expected impacts of these are:

  • an improvement in the road safety record associated with young and novice drivers due to their being better prepared for independent driving
  • an increasingly larger pool of drivers who use motorways correctly, which should benefit all motorway users through improved safety and better traffic flow

Risks

We recognise that allowing learner drivers to drive on motorways is not without risk, and could include the following:

  • learner drivers pose a hazard to other road users on the motorway
  • risky driving behaviour from other road users in response to learner drivers
  • more collisions involving newly qualified drivers if more drive on motorways than might otherwise have done
  • reduction in uptake of post-test motorway tuition

The overall effect of these risks could be an increase in casualties.

We consider that on balance, allowing learner drivers to access motorways is more likely to improve road safety.

Many of these risks can be mitigated by requiring an ADI to accompany the learner and ensuring that the ADI can take control of the vehicle in an emergency.

Many of the same hazards are currently posed by new drivers who drive on motorways, most of whom will have had no instruction on motorway driving.

We think that encouraging more people to undertake some form of tuition, in a safe and supportive environment, will improve road safety.

Allowing learner drivers to take lessons on motorways is not intended to replace post-test instruction. New drivers will still be able to have post-test training from an ADI.

There is also a risk that no-one will take up pre-test driving lessons but we think that this is unlikely to be an outcome.

We think motorway driving can be more easily and affordably incorporated as part of pre-test instruction, rather than expecting people to revert to lessons once they have passed their driving test.

Question 1

Do you think that learner drivers should be allowed to take lessons on motorways, subject to certain safeguards?

Question 2

Do you think that lessons on motorways should be optional for learner drivers?

2. Supplementary proposals

2.1 Approved driving instructors

Provisional driving licence holders cannot drive on their own until they have passed the driving test. The most common way of learning to drive is for individuals to pay for lessons from a professional driving instructor.

It is set out in law that the only people who are allowed to charge money for teaching someone to drive are ‘approved driving instructors’ (ADIs), or people granted a trainee licence as part of the process to become ADIs.

Private practice

Formal lessons are often supplemented by periods of practice driving where the learner is accompanied, free of charge, by a parent or acquaintance (who must be over the age of 21 and have held a full driving licence for at least 3 years).

Whilst parents and acquaintances have reached a suitable level of competence to drive a car themselves, they will not necessarily have the skills and experience to teach someone else how to drive safely on a motorway. Any mistake could have severe consequences given higher speeds usually involved in motorway driving.

ADIs have been through a dedicated training process and passed a test of their ability to instruct pupils. Therefore, we propose that learner drivers should only be allowed to have lessons on motorway driving if they are accompanied by an ADI. This would also minimise the potential for disruption to other road users.

Question 3

Do you think that motorway lessons for learner drivers should only be provided by a fully qualified approved driving instructor?

Trainee driving instructors

We propose that only registered ADIs would be permitted to offer motorway lessons.

People who are training to be driving instructors - potential driving instructors (PDIs) - although able to offer normal driving lessons, would not be allowed to give motorway lessons.

PDIs have passed the ADI tests part 1 and 2 and are allowed, with a trainee licence, to give lessons for a period of up to 6 months in order to gain instructional experience in preparation for the part 3 test of instructional ability.

As PDIs have not yet successfully demonstrated their instructional ability we do not think they should be permitted to take learner drivers on motorways.

Question 4

Do you agree that trainee driving instructors (potential driving instructors) should not be allowed to provide learner driver motorway lessons?

2.2 ADI training and testing

The ADI training and testing regime already incorporates driving on motorways.

ADI qualifying process

To become an ADI, it is necessary to pass three different tests covering theoretical knowledge, hazard perception skills, driving ability and the ability to instruct pupils.

The ADI part 1 test covers theory and hazard perception and includes driving on motorways. The test of driving ability (ADI part 2 test) covers a range of road and traffic conditions, including motorways or dual carriageways where possible.

Pass Plus

Some ADIs teach Pass Plus which includes a module on motorway driving.

ADI standards check

ADIs are also required to undergo a standards check at least once every 4 years; these can already incorporate motorway driving.

At a standards check the ADI is required to demonstrate competence during a lesson with one of their pupils. This can include driving on the motorway as some ADIs provide post-test lessons and choose to bring a pupil with a full licence for the standards check.

We consider that ADIs have already demonstrated their competence at teaching people to drive in a range of conditions and there is a system in place to ensure that standards are maintained.

We therefore propose that no changes are required to the existing system.

Question 5 (ADIs)

If you are an ADI, do you feel that the current training and testing system provides sufficient grounding for you to provide pre-test motorway lessons?

If not, where should it be strengthened?

2.3 Guidance for ADIs

Learner drivers will need to be competent in handling the vehicle and have a good understanding of the rules of the road before driving on a motorway.

The government does not wish to create unnecessary legislation and we are of the view that an ADI will have a good understanding of a learner driver’s progress and will be best placed to decide when the candidate has made sufficient progress driving on ordinary roads to be able to incorporate motorway driving.

The National Association Strategic Partnership (NASP) is intending to produce guidance for ADIs on providing motorway lessons. This could include:

  • when to incorporate motorway driving
  • appropriate conditions for a motorway lesson, for example, weather or traffic conditions
  • length of lesson required and proximity to motorway

Question 6

Are there any specific issues you think should be included in guidance to ADIs?

2.4 People who learn to drive without an ADI

Some people may learn to drive without using an ADI, relying instead on instruction from, and practice with, a relative or acquaintance.

If these learners want to learn to drive on a motorway before passing their test they would need to approach an ADI and pay for a lesson or lessons to cover this.

This would generate some difficulty for the ADI who would have no basis upon which to make a judgement about whether or not the candidate was ready to drive on the motorway.

However, the 2008 road safety research report ‘Cohort II: A study of Learner and New Drivers’ found that less than 1% of people who passed their test claimed to have taken no professional tuition, so this is not expected to be a significant issue.

A similar situation already exists where an ADI takes on a learner driver who has had lessons with another ADI, or when providing post-test lessons or Pass Plus to individuals they haven’t previously instructed.

We are of the view that in this situation, the ADI will need to take a decision on whether to provide a lesson in these circumstances and should consider how best to judge whether the individual has a suitable level of competence.

This could be through requiring them to have a standard lesson first or even assessing their driving on the way to a motorway junction.

Question 7

Do you agree that ADIs should exercise their discretion in providing a motorway lesson to a learner driver with whom they have had no previous contact?

2.5 Use of dual controlled vehicles

When an ADI is teaching a person to drive, it is common for them to do so in a car that has dual controls.

This usually means that the clutch and the brake are replicated on the passenger side of the car allowing the ADI to use them as necessary during the course of a lesson.

The purpose of dual controls is to allow the ADI to take evasive action to avoid a collision. This is particularly important in the early stages of learning to drive when a learner is at an elementary level and might be struggling to master clutch control or might have poor judgement about when to brake. (In an automatic car it is just the brake which is replicated on the passenger’s side of the car.)

We propose that learner drivers would only be allowed to drive on motorways in a car where the ADI is able to slow or stop the vehicle through use of a dual control brake, with clutch as appropriate.

Mitigating risks

As discussed above, we do recognise that there are risks associated with allowing learner drivers on motorways and the government is keen to mitigate those risks.

One of those risks is that learner drivers will, in many cases, be exposed to high speeds and very fast moving traffic for the first time and whilst building up their judgement and reaction skills in that environment it would be sensible to have the added safeguard of the ADI’s ability to provide assistance.

However, we also recognise there is an argument that any learner driver who has demonstrated sufficient competence to drive on a motorway before their test should not need the intervention of the ADI.

Dual control accelerator

It is possible for vehicles to be fitted with a dual control accelerator. We do not intend to require the use of these. They are not allowed in vehicles which are used for practical driving tests so it is unlikely that many cars used by ADIs will be fitted with them.

ADIs with cars without dual controls

We acknowledge that not all ADIs may have a car equipped with dual controls; those ADIs would effectively be barred from offering motorway lessons.

ADIs can make a decision on commercial grounds whether they want to acquire a vehicle with dual controls and take advantage of the opportunity to offer motorway lessons, or whether to maintain an ordinary car and not offer motorway lessons.

Question 8

Do you agree that learner driver motorway lessons must only take place in a car where the accompanying ADI has a dual control brake (and clutch in manual vehicles)?

2.6 Specially adapted vehicles

There are special considerations in the case of persons who take lessons in their own specially adapted vehicle, in order to accommodate a disability.

Some people will choose to have dual controls fitted as a temporary measure whilst they learn to drive but this is not mandatory.

In these circumstances, if we were to require all adapted vehicles to be fitted with dual controls for a motorway lesson, this could significantly increase the cost of learning to drive and act as a disincentive to taking a pre-test motorway lesson.

An alternative would be to make dual controls advisory in these circumstances, at the ADI’s discretion.

Question 9

If people learning to drive in specially adapted vehicles wish to take motorway lessons, should those vehicles be fitted with dual controls?

If yes, should this be advisory or mandatory?

2.7 Class of vehicle covered by the proposal

A large number of specialised vehicles can be driven on a provisional driving licence but our intention is that this will only apply to people driving motor cars.

Motorcycles

The proposal would not apply to learner motorcyclists.

Unlike learner car drivers, learner motorcyclists are permitted to ride unaccompanied as long as they have completed compulsory basic training (CBT).

They must display ‘L’ plates, they cannot carry passengers, they are restricted to bikes with an engine capacity up to 125cc and they are not allowed to drive on motorways.

CBT is intended as an elementary introduction to riding. Learner motorcyclists are expected to build up their experience and take further training prior to taking their practical test and obtaining a full motorcycle entitlement, at which point they are allowed to ride on motorways.

We do not consider it would be appropriate to allow learner motorcyclists to ride on motorways; they cannot be accompanied in the same way as learner drivers and are much more vulnerable than someone in an enclosed vehicle.

We feel it is safer to require motorcyclists to have demonstrated their proficiency as a rider, through having passed both parts of the practical motorcycle test, before attempting to use motorways.

Lorries and buses

People learning to drive much larger vehicles like lorries and buses are already permitted to have lessons on motorways; indeed this can be part of the test.

Those drivers already hold a full car driving licence and would not be affected by these proposals.

Question 10

Do you agree that motorway lessons for learner drivers who are provisional licence holders should only be permitted in motor cars?

2.8 Other drivers

Consideration should also be given to other drivers using motorways. Currently, learner drivers of cars are prohibited from motorways so drivers do not expect to see them there.

People learning to drive category C and D vehicles (lorries and buses) are allowed to practice on motorways, as are people who wish to add the B+E vehicle category to their licence. In these cases the vehicles will display L plates whilst on the motorway and other motorway users will be aware of them.

The proposed change is likely to substantially increase the amount of vehicles on the motorway displaying L plates.

In any year, there are many more people learning to drive cars than other vehicles, last year, cars made up 87% of driving tests conducted, rising to 95% when motorcycles are excluded.

Any changes will therefore need to be well publicised. The Highway Code reminds road users that learner drivers may not be so skilful at anticipating and responding to events and advises all road users to be particularly patient with learner drivers and young drivers.

2.9 Signage

It is important that learner drivers can be easily identified from a sufficient distance so that other drivers can give them plenty of space and make allowances for their lack of experience.

L and D plates

Existing requirements are that cars driven by a learner driver must display red L plates. In Wales, either red D plates, red L plates or both, can be used.

Plates must conform to legal specifications and must be clearly visible to others from in front of the vehicle and from behind.

Detachable roof boxes

Many ADIs also incorporate additional signage, which may include detachable roof boxes.

As with any other road, where used these must be securely attached, so that they do not become detached and pose a hazard to other roads users.

It is important that they are used in accordance with manufacturers’ guidance and not used at speeds in excess of those recommended.

Cross-winds and unpredictable buffeting from lorries on motorways could cause top boxes to be damaged or detached which would have severe safety implications.

We are of the view that they should be removed prior to motorway lessons.

Question 11

Do you agree that there is an increased risk using a top box on a motorway lesson and they should therefore be removed?

3. Access to motorways

There is an extensive motorway network in Great Britain but there are some areas that are far from a motorway or where there is no direct access (from our islands). For these people, it will not be practical to incorporate motorways in their driving lesson.

85% of the population of Great Britain is within 20 miles of a motorway junction, although the proportion is lower for Scotland and Wales at 73%. This means that a motorway lesson is a realistic possibility for many people, albeit that a longer lesson might be required.

People with limited access to motorways are less likely to need to use them on a regular basis but would still be able to access post-test training if their circumstances changed. Some organisations also offer advanced driving courses which can include driving over longer distances.

Chart showing proximity to motorway by percentage of population aged 17 to 24.
Figure 5: proximity to motorway by percentage of population aged 17 to 24

ADIs will need to consider if it is practicable to incorporate a motorway lesson depending on the location of the learner driver.

Map showing motorway network in Great Britain.
Figure 6: the motorway network in Great Britain (Crown copyright and database rights 2016, Ordnance Survey Licence Number 100039241)

4. Impact assessment

4.1 Cost to government

This is a deregulatory measure. An impact assessment will be published alongside regulations if / when the government decides to implement this proposal.

This proposal is not expected to lead to significant costs to government.

Learning to drive syllabus and training materials

DVSA does not anticipate needing to make substantial changes to the learning to drive syllabus, which already refers to different road types and condition and makes specific reference to driving on motorways.

Updates to training materials would be needed to take account of the changes. Costs of training materials are recoverable through sales of new training materials.

ADI training and testing

The ADI training and testing regime already allows ADIs to train on motorways. Further guidance on appropriate conditions and candidate preparedness for motorway lessons may be useful, as well as specific new questions in the ADI theory test.

Any such changes would be accommodated within DVSA’s continuous improvement / business as usual, rather than incurring specific additional costs.

The Highway Code

Rule changes would be reflected in The Highway Code. This is frequently revised to keep up to date with new legislation and guidance and any changes required are not expected to generate significant additional costs.

Raising awareness

We would want to consider raising awareness of any changes both for the benefit of learner drivers and other road users; this could be done through existing DVSA and THINK! road safety channels and publications.

4.2 Potential costs to ADIs and learner drivers

It is not expected that motorway lessons would significantly increase costs, either for ADIs or learner drivers.

Insurance products

There may be adjustments to insurance products but accompanied learner drivers have the lowest casualty risk of all road safety users, so it is not anticipated that this change will attract a substantial increase to the cost of insurance premiums.

We welcome views from the insurance sector.

Wear and tear to ADI vehicles

It is possible that greater mileage will increase wear and tear on ADI vehicles, leading to faster vehicle churn, but we do not expect this to have a noticeable impact as:

  • individual learners are unlikely to take many motorway lessons
  • ADIs can already take learners on high speed roads and dual carriage ways
  • some ADIs already offer post-test motorway lessons in their own vehicles

Any additional costs faced by the ADI are likely to be passed on to learner drivers but, as explained above, these are not expected to be significant.

Longer duration lessons

Motorway lessons may need to be of a longer duration than a standard one-hour lesson, to allow time to access the motorway and return.

Many learners already choose to take a double lesson and a motorway lesson may be incorporated into a learning programme rather than necessarily increasing the overall number of lessons taken.

ADIs using cars without dual controls

The proposal that motorway lessons should only be allowed in a car with dual controls means that ADIs using cars without dual controls wouldn’t be able to offer motorway lessons.

We understand that most ADIs do have dual-controls in their vehicles so this is not anticipated to be a significant issue for the sector but we welcome views on this point.

Overall, we expect any increase to the cost of learning to drive to be minimal and in any case motorway lessons will be optional for both learner and ADI.

Reduction in Pass Plus demand

ADIs who offer post-test instruction either through Pass Plus or dedicated motorway lessons may experience a reduction in demand.

Pre-test lessons are not intended to replace post-test instruction. Some drivers may prefer to venture onto motorways only when they have built up more independent driving experience on other roads.

Currently, demand for motorway instruction appears to be very low. We think if motorway lessons become the norm for all drivers, this will in time increase demand, whether this take place before or after someone passes their driving test.

Road safety and business

We would welcome any thoughts that consultees have on the impact that this measure might have both on road safety and on business.

When considering the potential impact on business - which we think will largely be on ADIs - it is important to bear in mind that no ADI will be required to change their existing practices; this is a deregulatory measure, which will allow them to offer motorway lessons should they wish to do so.

Unintended consequences

In addition, we would welcome comments about any unintended consequences of pursuing this measure which have not been reflected in the impact assessment.

Question 12

Do you have any comments on the potential impact of the proposal to allow learner drivers to take lessons on motorways?

If yes, please specify who you consider will be affected and provide examples of any costs where applicable.

5. Full list of consultation questions

  1. Do you think that learner drivers should be allowed to take lessons on motorways, subject to certain safeguards?
  2. Do you think that lessons on motorways should be optional for learner drivers?
  3. Do you think that motorway lessons for learner drivers should only be provided by a fully qualified approved driving instructor?
  4. Do you agree that trainee driving instructors (potential driving instructors) should not be allowed to provide learner driver motorway lessons?
  5. If you are an ADI, do you feel that the current training and testing system provides sufficient grounding for you to provide pre-test motorway lessons? If not, where should it be strengthened?
  6. Are there any specific issues you think should be included in guidance to ADIs?
  7. Do you agree that ADIs should exercise their discretion in providing a motorway lesson to a learner driver with whom they have had no previous contact?
  8. Do you agree that learner driver motorway lessons must only take place in a car where the accompanying ADI has a dual control brake (and clutch in manual vehicles)?
  9. If people learning to drive in specially adapted vehicles wish to take motorway lessons, should those vehicles be fitted with dual controls? If yes, should this be advisory or mandatory?
  10. Do you agree that motorway lessons for learner drivers who are provisional licence holders should only be permitted in motor cars?
  11. Do you agree that there is an increased risk using a top box on a motorway lesson and they should therefore be removed?
  12. Do you have any comments on the potential impact of the proposal to allow learner drivers to take lessons on motorways? If yes, please specify who you consider will be affected and provide examples of any costs where applicable.

6. Consultation principles

The consultation is being conducted in line with the government’s key consultation principles. If you have any comments about the consultation process, please contact:

Consultation Co-ordinator
Department for Transport
Zone 1/29 Great Minster House
London SW1P 4DR

Email: consultation@dft.gsi.gov.uk