L-plates on the M-way un­der new test plans

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Front Page - BY JOHN MCDOUGALL john.mcdougall@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @JMacD1988

LEARNER drivers in Hal­ton could take lessons on motorways sur­round­ing the bor­ough be­fore pass­ing their test af­ter new plans were un­veiled.

Mo­torists can cur­rently only drive on the routes af­ter pass­ing their driv­ing tests, while some newly-qual­i­fied drivers take lessons through the vol­un­tary Pass Plus scheme.

But Trans­port Min­is­ter An­drew Jones has out­lined pro­pos­als which would al­low learner drivers on motorways pro­vided they are ac­com­pa­nied by an ap­proved driv­ing in­struc­tor and are driv­ing a car fit­ted with dual con­trols.

It would mean learner drivers from Run­corn and Widnes would be able to drive on nearby motorways such as the M56 and M62 be­fore pass­ing their test.

Any motorways lessons would be vol­un­tary and it would be up to a driv­ing in­struc­tor to de­cide when the learner is com­pe­tent enough to have a les­son on one of the routes.

Mr Jones said: “We have some of the safest roads in the world and we want to make them even safer.

“These changes will equip learn­ers with a wider range of ex­pe­ri­ence and greater skill set which will im­prove safety lev­els on our roads.”

A De­part­ment For Trans­port (DFT) spokesman said that the changes will al­low learner drivers to gain broader driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore tak­ing their test, ob­tain train­ing on how to join and leave the mo­tor­way, over­take and use lanes cor­rectly, prac­tice driv­ing at higher speeds, and put their the­o­ret­i­cal knowl­edge into prac­tice.

Any change to the law would be well-pub­li­cised be­fore com­ing into ef­fect and it is still cur­rently il­le­gal for a learner driver to drive on a mo­tor­way.

RAC Foun­da­tion di­rec­tor Steve Good­ing said: “The ca­su­alty sta­tis­tics tell us that motorways are our safest roads, but they can feel any­thing but safe to a newly qual­i­fied driver head- ing down the slip road for the first time to join a fast mov­ing, of­ten heavy, flow of traf­fic.

“Many are so in­tim­i­dated by the mo­tor­way en­vi­ron­ment that they choose in­stead to use sta­tis­ti­cally more dan­ger­ous roads, so we wel­come this move which will help new drivers get the train­ing they need to use motorways safely.”

The DFT is also seek­ing views on sev­eral is­sues in­clud­ing whether cur­rent driv­ing in­struc­tor train­ing and test­ing sys­tem gives in­struc­tors the skills they need to pro­vide mo­tor­way lessons to learner drivers.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion is also ask­ing if spe­cially-adapted ve­hi­cles must be fit­ted with dual con­trols if they are to be used for mo­tor­way lessons, and if L plate roof­boxes on cars must be re­moved be­fore a mo­tor­way les­son.

The DFT spokesman added: “Al­low­ing learner drivers to have lessons on motorways will help to make sure more drivers know how to use motorways safely.

“The pro­posed changes will help to con­trib­ute to­wards the Gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to re­duce the num­ber of peo­ple killed and se­ri­ously in­jured on our roads, and en­sure safer jour­neys.”

Res­i­dents have their say on the plans un­til Fri­day, Fe­bru­ary 17.

For more in­for­ma­tion visit https:// www.gov.uk/gov­ern­ment/con­sul­ta­tions/ al­low­ing- learner- drivers- to­have-driv­ing-lessons-on-motorways

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