Learning to drive in the fast lane with new rules

Published: Sunday 10th January 2016 by The News Editor

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A change to the way young drivers are taught will see a new motorway driving element introduced in 2016. This is a long overdue move which the Government hopes will help to reduce deaths and serious injuries among drivers aged 17 to 21 years old.

This most vulnerable of driver groups were involved in 82 fatal collisions on motorways between 2006 and 2010, so targeting them while they are still learning is vitally important. The new learner driver rules will only allow a trainee driver on to the motorway with a fully qualified instructor and in a car with dual controls.

Until now, new drivers have been able to totter out of the driving test centre and straight into the fast lane of the nearest motorway without ever having driven on the fastest roads the UK has to offer. That is complete madness.

Under the new rules, learner drivers will be able to gain experience of motorway driving, though it will still not form a part of the test. The reason for this is to allow for those who live too far away from a motorway to be able to opt out of motorway driving as they learn.

It may sound like a reasonable idea to help keep the already steep costs of learning to drive under control, but this opt-out idea is ridiculous. If the Government is serious about reducing road deaths and serious injuries among young drivers, it has to apply the motorway driving element of the learning process to all drivers.

Tough as it may be for those who live in more remote areas that do not have motorways, they are still likely to encounter this type of road at some point during their driving career. All the more reason they gain some pre-test experience so they are not confronted with a completely new type of driving after they have passed the test.

Some may complain about the additional cost of having to travel to another part of the region or country to complete their driving instruction on a motorway. However, the extra cost will pale into insignificance next to the savings on clearing up a motorway collision.

There is also a very strong case for all drivers to receive some motorway driving education. Young drivers may be the most vulnerable group due to their lack of experience, but older drivers who have been behind the wheel for much longer can be just as dangerous for very different reasons.

As we grow more accustomed to driving, we develop bad habits and forget some of the good practice taught while we were learners ourselves. Those who read this and instantly think they don’t need any further training or it only applies to others are probably the ones who need a bit of gentle re-education the most.

Motorways may be the safest roads in the UK statistically, but they are also where drivers are most likely to exceed the speed limit, drive too closely to the car in front and let their attention wander from the task in hand.

Motorway lessons cannot come soon enough for young drivers, or for the rest of us.

Copyright Press Association 2016

Published: Sunday 10th January 2016 by The News Editor

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