Learner drivers are to be allowed on motorways for the first time, ministers announce

Learner drivers are to be allowed on motorways for the first time amid fears young motorists are putting themselves and others at risk using dangerous back roads.

Ministers have announced that for the first time, learner drivers will be able to have lessons on motorways with an approved driving instructor in a dual controlled car.

Motoring experts said the change is necessary because inexperienced new drivers are often scared to go on motorways and are instead choosing dangerous back roads and lanes where they are more likely to have an accident.

As part of a series of changes to make British roads safer, the Government also announced plans to ensure than novice motorcycle riders do a theory test as part of their Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) course.

Under the current rules, completing a CBT, which has largely remained unchanged since its introduction in 1990, allows motorcyclists to ride unaccompanied on roads.

Provisional motorcyclists will also in future be banned after receiving six penalty points, ministers said.

Andrew Jones, the Transport minister, said: “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.”

Steve Gooding, the RAC Director, 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.”

Ministers last year shelved plans to make young motorists wait until they are 18 to take their driving test.

The plans, which were considered under the Coalition in 2013, would have required drivers to log 120 hours of supervised practice before taking the test.

The Government this month announced that drivers who cause death when looking at their mobile phones will face life in jail.

In a major hardening of sentencing guidelines, ministers have proposed raising the upper limit of imprisonment for dangerous drivers who kill from 14 years to a lifetime.

Last year, 122 people were sentenced for causing death by dangerous driving and a further 21 people were convicted for killing someone when under the influence of drink or drugs.