The DVLA released information regarding the new changes to driving lessons in August 2017. From Monday 4 June 2018 learner drivers will be able to take driving lessons on the motorway. It has previously been illegal for learner drivers to drive on the motorway and it is still illegal until the law changes in June.
The changes only apply to learner drivers learning to drive a car (not motorcyclists) and trainee instructors or other drivers will not be allowed to assist learner drivers on the motorway. The motorway lessons are voluntary and it is up to the driving instructor to decide whether the learner is ready to go onto the motorway.
The DVLA’s reasons for changing the law regarding learner drivers driving on the motorway is to ensure maximum safety on the motorway as previously if you wanted to have lessons for driving on the motorway you would have to wait until after you passed and you would be able to have lessons with the pass plus scheme. This meant that unless new drivers took lessons after they have passed they would be unfamiliar with the motorway and therefore putting the safety of other drivers at risk.
The changes aren’t be introduced into driving tests, only driving lessons. Learner drivers MUST be accompanied by an approved driving instructor and in a car that has dual controls fitted. Driving instructors can choose to have a driving school rooftop box during motorway lesson to make it easier for other drivers to identify a learner driver, but if they choose not to have the box on the roof during motorway lessons you must display L plates on the front and back of the car.
If you are a driver driving on the motorway near a learner driver make sure you keep a safe distance just as if they were any other driver and increase this distance on wet or icy roads and in fog. The DVLA asks that you please be patient with learning drivers on the motorway and they will not be skilful at responding to events.
The DVLA are publicising the changes a lot to ensure that learning drivers, driving instructors and other road users are aware that learners will be driving on the motorway soon and that the highway code will be updated.
The DVLA learning materials and syllabus for learning to drive will be updated for the motorway lessons to aid driving instructors to teach the motorway lessons but the DVLA are not going to be offering extra training for instructors regarding this change.
The changes being made will allow learners to learn how to join and leave the motorway as well as how to overtake and use lanes correctly, how to drive at higher speeds and understand motorway specific traffic signs, what to do if a vehicle breaks down whilst on the motorway and improve their confidence when driving on the motorway alone after passing the test as they will have more experience before passing their test.