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New measures to help learner drivers21-12-2015  
The Department for Transport has unveiled a raft of measures to improve the safety of Britainís roads.
  • DfT road safety plan to build on Britain’s excellent road safety record.
  • £2 million for research into driver education, including the possibility of giving learner drivers motorway experience with an instructor before taking their test.
  • £750,000 grant for police forces to build drug-driving enforcement capability​.

The proposals will ensure learner drivers are properly prepared before their test, including the chance to gain motorway experience with an approved driving instructor. This follows plans announced last month to introduce a deposit which is returned to the learner driver if they pass, encouraging them to take their test when they are ready.

Other measures to take priority in the government’s plan for road safety include funding to train the next generation of cyclists and extra money for police forces to crack down on drug drivers.

The plan outlines how the government is delivering on its commitment to reduce the number of people killed and injured on our roads during this Parliament.

The main proposals announced today are:

  • learner drivers will for the first time be offered the opportunity to drive on motorways
  • the proposals would see learners allowed to take a motorway driving lesson with an approved driving instructor in a dual controlled car - this is designed to make drivers safer once they have passed their test
  • police forces across the country will be able to remove more dangerous drivers from UK roads, thanks to new government funding
  • £750,000 grant for police forces in England and Wales will fund more officers with drug recognition and impairment testing skills to enable more effective and targeted enforcement
  • a grant of £50 million over the next 4 years will support Bikeability cycle training in schools
  • this funding will help to increase children’s road awareness, encouraging children to be healthy and active
  • since its inception, more than 1.5 million school children have received training through the Bikeability scheme - we expect to train 275,000 children during 2015/16
  • the government will consult on changes to improve cycle safety to ensure sideguards are not removed from HGVs but remain permanently fitted
  • the Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) for learner motorcyclists will be strengthened and there will be a consultation on a range of further proposals to support safer motorcycling
  • a £2 million in-depth research programme will be launched to identify the best possible driver education, training and behaviour-change interventions for learner and novice drivers
  • motorists who endanger lives by using hand held mobile phones while driving will face an increase from the current 3 penalty points to 4, while the fixed penalty notice will rise from £100 to £150
  • for larger vehicles such as HGVs where the consequences of an accident can be much more severe, the penalty will increase from the current 3 points to 6 and the fixed penalty notice will rise from £100 to £150

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:

“Britain has some of the safest roads in the world but we are always looking to improve that record.

“Today we are delivering common sense proposals that balance tougher penalties for dangerous drivers with practical steps to help youngsters and other more vulnerable groups stay safe on our roads.

Steve Gooding, Director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“One in five young drivers has an accident within 6 months of passing their test so putting the learning process under the spotlight has to be a good thing.

“Mile for mile motorways are our safest roads but can be intimidating places for novice drivers. Exploring ways of letting learners have controlled access to them is welcome.

“The important thing is the official seal of approval provided by the approved driving instructor who will accompany them down the slip-road. This is definitely not the time to have mum or dad in the passenger seat.”

John Lepine, General Manager of MSA GB said:

“This appears to be another step along the road to allowing learners on motorways something the MSA has been campaigning about for many years. However, I won't hold my breath in 2007 the House of Commons Transport Committee recommended this and in 2011 Mike Penning MP then Parliamentary Under - Secretary of State at DfT said it was going to happen and still we wait. This simple piece of de-regulation is important it is not just a matter of safety on motorways it also about educating all drivers that motorways are the safest and most economical roads to use currently more than one in 10 women say that they avoid driving on motorways due to nerves.

“Money for an in-depth research programme to identify the best possible driver education, training and behaviour-change interventions for learner and novice drivers is very welcome. However, will anything actually happen the research paper “Trial of the learner-driver logbook” some fifteen years ago concluded that: The overall first time pass rate of Logbook users was 79%. The large majority of these were 17 years old, a group for whom, nationally, there is a higher first time pass rate than for all Test candidates, at 52.4%. Even taking this into account, using statistical tests it was found that the higher first time pass rate of logbook users was significantly different from the national rate for 17 year olds. A great idea backed up by research supported by the majority of ADIs but never enacted. Will this research be any different we will have to wait and see.”

A series of consultations on the specific proposals announced will follow next year (2016).

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