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Learner drivers to be allowed on motorways under shake up of safety rules

The transport secretary said the change would make roads safer. Credit: PA

Learner drivers will be allowed to take lessons on the motorway under a shake-up of laws, the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced.

The change will allow people who had not yet passed their test to drive on Britain's motorways with an approved instructor.

Mr Grayling said it was intended to make the roads safer by ensuring that novices are better prepared before they start driving independently.

He said the law change was "long overdue" and would benefit everyone on the roads.

"What we have at the moment is a situation where you can drive away after your test straight onto a motorway for the first time," he said.

"What we're going to be doing in future is now having training for young people, learner drivers, on motorways in controlled conditions with an experienced instructor."

Learners are currently not allowed on motorways until they have passed their test.

The Government hopes the new legislation will be passed by Parliament next year.

Transport officials point out that young drivers are up to seven times more likely to be killed or seriously injured compared with drivers over 25, saying that lack of experience is an important factor.

The Department for Transport consulted on the measure earlier this year and received "wide support" from learner drivers and driving instructors.

New drivers often fear driving on motorways. Credit: PA

The move has also been backed by major motoring organisations.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said some drivers find it "daunting" to use motorways for the first time.

"Giving learners the option to gain valuable experience on our fastest and busiest roads should further improve safety and enhance theconfidence of new drivers," he said.

AA president Edmund King described a lack of motorway experience as the "Achilles heel" of learner driver tuition.

But road safety charity Brake warned that the new measure does not go far enough to improve driving standards, saying that instead newly-qualified drivers should be required to take additional motorway lessons.