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Learner drivers ‘should be allowed on motorways’

Learner drivers should be allowed to take to the motorways during supervised lessons, experts have insisted.

According to the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), many drivers do not feel completely confident when they are using motorways.

As a result, they are particularly likely to make mistakes such as hog the middle lane or fail to maintain a sufficient stopping distance from the vehicle in front of them.

The IAM believes this problem has arisen partly because only a small number of motorists have actually received training on how to use motorways.

It has therefore suggested that the rules restricting learner drivers from going on motorways be relaxed, so they can develop practical knowledge and experience of using these roads under proper supervision.

Simon Best, chief executive of the IAM, commented: “This measure, plus widely available refresher and modular courses on motorway driving, should be encouraged to help everyone use them from a position of knowledge and confidence. The outcome should be fewer incidents, fewer injuries and fewer delays.”

The IAM noted that learner drivers are already allowed to use motorways in countries such as the US and Australia, whereas in the UK they gradually build up experience and learn from their mistakes – which it said is “far from ideal”.

Mr Best added that human error is a contributing factor in nearly three-quarters of motorway crashes that result in injury.

This comes shortly after the government unveiled plans to hit drivers who tailgate or hog the middle lane with fixed penalty notices for careless driving.

Drivers will have the option of undergoing educational training or getting points on their licence. This could potentially lead to their car insurance premiums going up, as their cover provider might view those who have been punished for driving offences as a relatively high risk compared to those with a clean record.

Road safety minister Stephen Hammond said the changes being proposed will make it easier for the police to “tackle problem drivers” whose “negligence puts innocent people’s lives at risk”.

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