M25 motorway interchange at dusk, the street lights are on and cars are travelling along the 4 layer elevated major road junction

How to prepare learner drivers for their first motorway lesson

5 minute read

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In June 2020, the law was changed to allow learner drivers on motorways, under supervision and only if they choose to do so.

  • Learner driver lessons on motorways are voluntary – not compulsory
  • They must be accompanied by approved driving instructors
  • The car used must be dual controlled

Do a little preparation, have a look at the Highway Code section on motorways

Are learners allowed on motorways with mum, dad or a friend who can drive? 

No, reveals Lynne Barrie, an MA in driver training and chairperson of the Approved Driving Instructors National Joint Council, or ADINJC (@ADINJChq).

‘Learners can only be driving on motorways with dual controls and approved driving instructors,’ explains Lynne. ‘They can’t drive on motorways early in the learning process, but when they are near to taking the test – and they can’t drive on a motorway during the test.’

Of course, family members can still be useful in telling learner drivers what to expect.

What should learners expect of a lesson involving motorway driving?

‘Motorway driving lessons should cover things like joining and leaving a motorway, doing lane changes, when to do them, and dealing with traffic around you,’ says Peter Rodger, head of driving advice at IAMRoadSmart (@IAMRoadSmart), and former deputy head of driver training at the Metropolitan Police.

‘Some people find motorways intimidating, so a lesson should help reduce that fear,’ Peter says. ‘Motorways are statistically the safest roads we have, and the chance to learn under supervision can really help learners.'

Why aren’t these lessons mandatory?

‘That's impossible on practical grounds, because there are no motorways in Cornwall, Dorset, Norfolk, Suffolk, Rutland, and in large areas of Scotland and Wales,’ says Peter. ‘It would be unreasonable to insist that every learner goes on a motorway if the nearest is a long way away.’

Any advice for a learner nervous about driving on a motorway for the first time?

‘You should already have built up a rapport with your instructor, and you'll be briefed thoroughly ahead of the lesson, so listen to everything they say, stay calm, take a deep breath, and remember to use your mirrors,’ says Jackie Violet, a professional driver trainer, an approved driving instructor (ADI) with the Driving Standards Agency, and a member of the Driving Instructors Association (@the_DIA).

‘Do a little preparation,’ Peter says. ‘Have a look at the Highway Code section on motorways.’