Drivers in favour of pre-test motorway lessons

Drivers in favour of pre-test motorway lessons
Motorists want to see learner drivers given assisted motorway practice before passing their test, according to conclusive RAC research.

Drivers responded emphatically, with as many as eight in 10 agreeing that the under-review proposal is a sensible idea.

Across the survey of over 2,000 motorists, a mere 14% considered themselves fully prepared for motorway driving after passing the existing practical and theory tests.

The survey was undertaken as the country awaits the results of a joint consultation between the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency and the Department for Transport into leaner driver motorway use.

This consultation is part of a significant proposal to majorly shake-up the driving test this December.

In the RAC study, an overwhelming 79% of drivers said that – if accompanied by an approved instructor in a dual-controlled car – the driving standards of leaners would be improved given the option of real-life experience on our fastest roads.

Almost a fifth (19%) said they don’t think a change would make any difference, with only 3% worried it would worsen standards.

Even though statistically speaking motorways are the safest roads in the country, many new drivers still have apprehensions about using them for the first time, mainly due to the high speeds involved.

Half of the respondents (49%) said that they did not feel sufficiently prepared for motorway driving when they passing their practical and theory tests.

In what could prove another significant breakthrough in driver safety, it was recently announced that Apple is to include a safe driving mode for iPhones when it updates its software later this year.

The iOS 11 version will carry the option to divert calls and notifications from a driver’s phone, responding to the caller or sender with a specialised alert.

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Pete Williams, RAC road safety spokesman explained that the motoring organisation supports proposals for optional motorway lessons – although the measure should not be made mandatory.

“Many learner drivers do not live in an area which has access to the motorway network, in addition, those drivers that live in regions furthest away from a motorway are less likely to drive on one on a regular basis,” he said.

“Such high speeds can make a driver who has recently passed their practical test feel nervous and more vulnerable the first time they venture on to these types of roads. As a result, new drivers may decide to delay using a motorway, possibly opting to use less safe country roads or major A-roads instead.”

With almost 60 years having passed since the first UK motorway was opened, Mr Williams suggests this is an apt time to start considering new policy around their use, particularly with new forms – such as smart motorways – coming into play.

He added: “It seems sensible that approved driving instructors are best placed to decide when their students are ready to have their first motorway lesson, but the Government needs to consider publishing guidance on how to assess whether a learner is sufficiently competent to drive on a motorway under supervision.”

Copyright Press Association 2017. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.