Learner drivers on motorways – an Update

Two months in, are we any further along?

On 4th June 2018 qualified ADIs (Approved Driving Instructors) in dual controlled cars were allowed to take Learner drivers on Motorways for the first time. Better Driver Training’s Chris Bensted appeared on Sky News on the 4th to inform the public of the change.

We are now 2 months in and ADIs and their pupils across the UK have been benefitting with this modernisation to driver training. Chris Bensted tells his findings, and how surprised he is at what they mean.

Learner drivers on motorways

Before the change I was excited at the opportunity. I had been one of the many ADIs campaigning to allow us the opportunity to prepare learner drivers in full pre-test, it always seemed silly not to! However it hasn’t been what I expected.

Speaking to colleagues across the country, much less intensive motorway training has occurred than expected. It’s been occasional and an interjection to the usual training, often as part of an extended route or a better way for the driving lesson to achieve an objective.

However, the outcome has been hugely positive. Pupils have found that achieving a motorway drive - something that prior generations of learners have been told was beyond them - has improved their off-motorway confidence and skill. It is literally another piece in the puzzle for them, each piece supporting the others.

In hindsight this isn’t surprising, driving success is about 2 key elements:

  • Experience
  • Age

The older we get the safer we are. This is not necessarily to do with having seen and done more, but the development of risk-analysis and risk-aversion parts of the brain (the frontal lobe).

Separate to this, the more experienced the new driver the safer they get. They have literally ‘seen it before’ so know how to respond.

The motorway challenge is largely experience based, and we all know that when it changes it does so rapidly and potentially without warning. Having seen these ‘unpredictable’ moments and developed coping strategies at speed help the motorway driver, but equally the town and country driver - which is where the serious crashes are far more common.

ADI Andrew Hill says:

"So far the pupils I’ve taken onto the motorway have found it to be a positive and confidence giving experience . There are some new experiences to deal with such as gantry signs and changing Lane, with the possibility of another vehicle moving into it from another lane on offside . This Increase pupils awareness of the necessity of forward planning , mirror use , timing signals and observation .

Overall it’s a great learning experience for them and they all feel pleased with themselves once they’ve had that experience . From my point of view it’s giving them more tools in the box that they can use in the future to keep them safe."

We will have to wait 2-5 years before we see the beginnings of any change to abilities, statistics or understanding filter through. Maybe the next generation of learners, our pupils own kids, will be better educated when they come to driving age. Time will tell.

The important message we give our drivers is that we don’t vanish when they pass their test. We don’t just teach learners and regularly take out new, qualified and experienced drivers to assess, improve and develop their driving skill and safety. If you know someone who would benefit from our help please contact us to discuss it.

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Learner drivers on motorways – an Update