Transport secretary Chris Grayling has announced plans to allow learner drivers on to motorways from 1 January 2018.
Learners who are in a dual-controlled car with an approved driving instructor will be permitted to drive on motorways in order to gain experience on the roads.
Currently drivers aren’t allowed on the motorway network until after they have passed their driving tests.
The Department for Transport held a consultation on the proposed rule changes back in 2016. Road safety minister Andrew Jones said: ‘I want to make sure that the current generation of young adults about to start their driving career have the best possible introduction to what we want to be a lifetime of safe driving.
‘Younger drivers are currently around five to seven times more likely to be killed or seriously injured compared with car drivers aged 25 or over.’
Road safety charity Brake has criticised the proposals, saying that young drivers are too inexperienced to be allowed on the motorways. Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns, said: ‘Rather than allowing learner drivers on the motorway, there should instead be a requirement for all newly-qualified drivers to receive mandatory lessons, including on the motorway, once they’ve passed their test.
‘There needs to be much wider reform to the learning to drive system, including a minimum learning period and restrictions for newly-qualified drivers, such as a late-night curfew.’
The Institute of Advanced Motorists is in favour of the changes. Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart’s director of policy and research, said: ‘It makes no sense that new drivers learn by trial and, sometimes fatal, error how to use our fastest and most important roads.
‘Allowing learners on motorways with an approved instructor is a sensible and measured solution that should deliver confident new drivers who are much better able to cope with complex smart motorways.’