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At last! Lessons on motorways move into the fast lane04-02-2017  
New drivers have waited long enough for this opportunity: now is the time. Here we have published an indication of the MSA GB intended response to the consultation paper "Learners on Motorways" and invite members to comment.

Please do so promptly as the consultation closes in mid-February. In order for MSA GB to reflect your views please send us an email 

Valentine’s day deadline

Please reply by 14 February at the latest. As you look through our response, we are particularly keen to hear members’ views on questions 5, 6 and 11.

The MSA GB DRAFT response to learners on motorways consultation

1) Do you think that learner drivers should be allowed to take lessons on motorways, subject to certain safeguards?

MSA GB:  Yes

2) Do you think that lessons on motorways should be optional for learner drivers?

MSA GB:  Yes – However, we believe that where motorways are within a reasonable distance of the learner’s base they should be actively encouraged to drive on them.

3) Do you think that motorway lessons for learner drivers should only be provided by a fully qualified approved driving instructor?

MSA GB:  Yes

4) Do you agree that trainee driving instructors (potential driving instructors) should not be allowed to provide learner driver motorway lessons?

MSA GB:  Yes

5) If you are an ADI, do you feel that the current training and testing system provides sufficient grounding for you to provide pre-test motorway lessons? If not, where should it be strengthened?

MSA GB:  Yes - That is the view of our members. [or rather, we think! Is that your view? Do you feel confident about taking learner drivers on to motorways?]

6) Are there any specific issues you think should be included in guidance to ADIs?

MSA GB:  Yes – We support the advice being prepared by NASP and have contributed to it. [Are there any areas of concern you have that you would like to see included in the proposed NASP guidance?]

7) Do you agree that ADIs should exercise their discretion in providing a motorway lesson to a learner driver with whom they have had no previous contact?

MSA GB:  Yes – We believe this situation is somewhat hypothetical. No ADI will take any student onto a motorway unless they believe that the learner is at an appropriate stage to be safe and to benefit from a lesson on the motorway.

8) Do you agree that learner driver motorway lessons must only take place in a car where the accompanying ADI has a dual control brake (and clutch in manual vehicles)?

MSA GB:  Yes, we would suggest that in the interest of road safety, learners on motorways must be in dual controlled vehicles as an ADI is experienced and competent in their correct use and an accompanying driver, hiring a dual controlled vehicle, may not be.

9) If people learning to drive in specially adapted vehicles wish to take motorway lessons, should those vehicles be fitted with dual controls? If yes, should this be advisory or mandatory?

MSA GB:  Yes, this should be mandatory. Specially adapted driving school vehicles are fitted with dual controls and the ADIs who train learners in these vehicles are usually specially trained ADIs. If a learner is having lessons in a specially adapted driving school car without dual control(s) they should not be allowed on the motorway.

10) Do you agree that motorway lessons for learner drivers who are provisional licence holders should only be permitted in motor cars?

MSA GB:  Yes, we feel this would be the safest option and that it would not be appropriate to allow learner motorcyclists to ride on motorways as they cannot be accompanied in the same way that learner drivers are.

11) Do you agree that there is an increased risk using a top box on a motorway lesson and they should therefore be removed?

MSA GB:  We have reservations regarding this matter, as a rule roof box manufacturers guarantee their magnets up to 70mph. However, there have been some mishaps with roof boards coming off at high speed. If using only L plates, these must be securely fastened to the vehicle as some magnetic Ls blow of at speeds lower than 70 mph. [What do you think about top boxes being used on motorways? When you deliver Pass Plus or motorway lessons, do you use a driving school roof sign on your vehicle? If you do you keep it on during these training sessions have you had any difficulties with the roof sign.]

12) Do you have any comments on the potential impact of the proposal to allow learner drivers to take lessons on motorways? If yes, please specify who you consider will be affected and provide examples of any costs where applicable.

MSA GB:  No


At last

The Government has, at last, launched plans to allow learner car drivers on to motorways for the first time. It’s easy for the MSA GB to say “and about time, too”. Let’s remember that motorways have been part of British motoring for nearly 60 years, when the first stretch opened in 1958 on what is now the M6 near Preston.

The proposed changes will see competent learner drivers able to have lessons on motorways with an ADI in a dual-controlled car. These two points are, in our mind, crucial. Allowing learners on a motorway will improve the awareness and experience of new drivers and form an integral part of an over-arching strategy to improve road safety.

The proposal was launched in the quiet days between Christmas and New Year, and unfortunately just after the January issue of  Newslink went to press. However, most readers will have noted the significance of a motorway photograph on the cover of January‘s Newslink, which suggested this news was forthcoming.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones launched the new consultation, saying: “We have some of the safest roads in the world and we want to make them even safer. These changes will equip learners with a wider range of experience and greater skill set which will improve safety levels on our roads.”

Gareth Llewellyn, DVSA Chief Executive, added: “DVSA’s first priority is helping everyone stay safe on Britain’s roads. “Our roads are among the safest in the world but we are determined to do more to improve safety for all road users, including newly qualified drivers. We want to modernise driver training so that novice drivers gain the skills and knowledge they need to help them to stay safe on our roads.”

Changes to motorcycle training are also being introduced and will include introducing a training course to allow existing riders to upgrade their licence and improving the way instructors are qualified and quality assured.  The Department for Transport (DfT) and the DVSA is now seeking views on the measures to improve training for new drivers and motorcyclists. The consultations will run until February 17 and the changes could come in by 2018.

RAC Director, Steve Gooding, said: “The casualty statistics tell us that motorways are our safest roads, but they can feel anything but safe to a newly qualified driver heading down the slip road for the first time to join a fast-moving, often heavy, flow of traffic. Many are so intimidated by the motorway environment that they choose instead to use statistically more dangerous roads, so we welcome this move which will help new drivers get the training they need to use motorways safely.”

The consultation attracted quite a lot of media coverage including segments on all the major news channels.

BBC News -  30 December 2016 Plan to include lessons on motorways: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38464776

ITV News - 30 December Learner drivers to get access to motorways under new plans: http://www.itv.com/news/2016-12-30/learner-drivers-to-be-able-to-drive-on-motorways-under-new-plans/

Sky News - 30 December Learner drivers to be able to use motorways under new plans: http://news.sky.com/story/learner-drivers-tobe-able-to-use-motorways-under-newplans-10711488

MSA GB is inclined to support the changes proposed in this consultation. Clearly, we are concerned that it has taken more than 30 years’ of campaigning by this organisation and many other road safety groups to get to a consultation stage, however.

Looking back through the archives it is clear how often this matter has been raised. Just looking at recent years, in 1997-98 there was an Early Day Motion (EDM) put before the House of Commons calling for action to be taken to address the problems of proficiency of motorway driving, while another EDM in 2005 urged the Government to introduce measures for new drivers to “undertake some form of motorway tuition.”

The House of Commons Transport Committee Novice Drivers Report in 2007 recommended “allowing learners onto motorways—in a dual-controlled vehicle.” What is frustrating is statements such as that one were pushing at an open door.

The Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State at Department for Transport, speaking in the House of Commons in 2011, stated “we will pass regulations to allow qualified driving instructors to take learners on to motorways” Two years ago, the DfT Road Safety Statement - Working Together to Build a Safer Road System promised: “We will consult on legislative changes to allow ADIs with dual-controlled cars to offer lessons on motorways to learner drivers”

Now is the time

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