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