Not enough learner drivers are using motorways

Citroen C1 learner

Six months ago, the law was changed to allow Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) to assist students on motorways in England, Scotland and Wales. But new data released by telematics insurance company, Marmalade, reveals that too few learners are grasping the opportunity.

Of the ADIs surveyed, 41 percent said that only a small minority of their pupils have requested a motorway lesson, while 26 percent said that none of their students had requested one.

Motorway lessons for learner drivers are voluntary, but they must be with an ADI in a car with dual-controls displaying ‘L’ plates. Instructors will only take a learner on the motorway when they feel they have the right set of skills to deal with a high-speed environment.

In June, Highways England executive director for safety, engineering and standards, Mike Wilson, said: “This change in the law will develop a smarter generation of road users because, for the first time, approved driving instructors will be able to teach their students the skills associated with using motorways safely in a practical situation. That will ultimately help all motorway drivers.”

During the lessons, learner drivers will receive tuition on:

  • How to join and leave the motorway, overtake and use lanes correctly
  • Using smart motorways
  • Driving at high speeds
  • Motorway-specific signs
  • What to do in the event of a breakdown

Commenting at the time of the introduction, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) chief examiner, Mark Winn, said: “I’m delighted that a new generation of drivers can now drive on the motorway to gain valuable experience, including overtaking safely and lane discipline.”

The top ‘real life’ scenario

Six months on, not enough drivers are grabbing the chance to gain more experience. Crispin Moger, Marmalade CEO, said: “Giving motorway access to learner drivers was a really encouraging shift by the government because it gives learner drivers access, in a supportive environment, to develop their skillset before they become qualified drivers.

“The announcement was quite timely given that our annual census revealed that motorway driving was the top ‘real life’ scenario that learner drivers wanted to experience, followed by night time driving and rush hour driving.”

Highways England has created this video for any learner drivers considering a motorway lesson.