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Will Driving on a Motorway be Added to the UK Driving Test?

The driving test has evolved over the last twenty years, designed to demonstrate that our new motorists are in a fit state to take to the road. While most driving skills are covered, to date using the motorway has been excluded. As expert driving instructors in Manchester we are always keeping up to date with the latest changes and information about driving tests so let’s take a look at the issues surrounding this recent proposal.  It’s something that many think should now be included in the test and something that should be incorporated into lessons beforehand.

Motorway Consultation

The Government began a consultation in December 2016 to see if driving on motorways should be included as part of lessons and consequently put into the driving test. Often, the first time that novice drivers experience a motorway is once they have passed their test. Some may well get their instructor to go out with them on their first trip but many do it without any instruction whatsoever.

Driving on a motorway requires a specific set of skills, not just because of the higher speeds and the number of vehicles, but also for a number of other reasons. Real world driving and giving our learners as much experience as possible will better equip them for when they finally do pass their test.

Developing Motorway Skills

Our motorways are actually some of the safest roads in the country but those who hold a provisional licence are currently stopped from driving on them. The skills required for driving on them are certainly different from on ‘normal’ roads. Because of the speed of the traffic and the fact that there are three lanes, drivers have to be aware of their surroundings and what is happening both in front and behind. Confidence in manoeuvring, especially in busy traffic, is something that is learned by experience and starting drivers as soon as practically possible is certainly a good idea according to many.

Driving on dual carriageways is already included in the learning process but motorway driving is a step up from this. In some areas of the country, particularly city locations, getting around is often dependent on being able to use motorways. There are also junctions where motorways join each other and where driving can be challenging for a novice.

Objections to Learning on Motorways

One objection to learner drivers using motorways is that they lack the confidence and the skills to cope with such situations and the response time for instructors is also more limited when they are trying to react to different situations. Would you, for example, take a learner driver onto a motorway in the centre of Birmingham at the height of rush hour? When does it become a danger to other road users and at what point in the learning process is it going to be practical to include?

Driving Lessons Manchester

Many also point to the fact that there is the chance for new drivers to take additional lessons, after they have passed their test, to learn how to drive on the motorway. According to the Government consultation, however, less than 3% of drivers who have recently passed take advantage of these courses. Including them into the general curriculum for learning to drive and taking the test could well make sure that our new motorists are better equipped than they ever were before. The consultation stipulates that any motorway driving would have to be undertaken with a qualified driving instructor and in a car with dual controls.

The consultation runs to the middle of February 2017 and the results will be published during the following three months. To find out more, or contribute to the discussion, visit the Government website.