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Department for Transport proposals would allow driving instructors to supervise novice drivers on motorways

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Learner drivers could be allowed on motorways for the first time, under government proposals aimed at increasing road safety.

The Department for Transport is considering the move as a way to make sure learners are properly prepared for everyday driving before they pass their tests. Under the plans, they would be allowed to gain experience on motorways under the supervision of an approved driving instructor.

At the moment, learner drivers are not allowed to go on motorways but can do so without having had any practical experience after passing their test.

The possibility of learners on motorways will be explored under a £2m project examining driver education. It will look at whether the current regime gives the best training for learner and novice drivers. Compulsory basic training for learner motorcyclists will also be reviewed.

As part of a package of reforms known as the road safety plan, transport ministers are also planning a £50m grant for better cycling training in schools, and looking at forcing lorries to keep their sideguards to better protect cyclists.

There will also be increased punishments for drivers who use hand-held mobile devices while driving, with an increase from three penalty points to four and the fine rising from £100 to £150. In 2014, mobile phone usage was a contributing factor in 21 fatal road accidents and 84 serious accidents. The penalty for using a mobile while driving larger vehicles such as HGVs will go up from three to six points.

Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, said he was putting forward “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”.

The move to let learner drivers have supervised practice on motorways was welcomed by Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation. “One in five young drivers has an accident within six months of passing their test so putting the learning process under the spotlight has to be a good thing,” he said.

“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.”

The government is currently considering a number of reforms to driving tests in order to improve the UK’s road safety record. It is already thinking about giving those who pass their driving test first time a refund of part of the cost. The plan is intended to raise the low first-time pass rate, which stands at just 21%.

At one point, the government was also considering banning newly qualified drivers from carrying non-family members under proposals to cut the number of road accidents involving teenagers.

www.thedrivingskool.com

How many driving lessons on average do you need to take before you can pass? What’s the average number of lessons people take before they take their driving test?

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Chances are, these are questions you’ve been asking yourself and others.

We’re here to tell you the answer is ‘does not matter’.

That’s right. It does not matter what the average number of lessons is, because you are not an average person. You are unique with unique skills and unique needs.

You probably have noticed when asking around for the number of average lessons you’ll get all sorts of ridiculous numbers. We’ve even heard people claiming they only needed 10 lessons to pass their driving test!

Let’s pretend for a second that they’re telling the truth (they’re not). They passed after 10 lessons (they didn’t). So what?

What has somebody else’s ability (or imagination) got to do with you?

Even still, we have a problem with the question. In fact, any decent driving instructor should whince if you ask them how many lessons you need before you can pass your test.

The reason is simple. Do you want to simply pass your test, or do you want to be a safe and confident driver?

Every year hundreds of new drivers die on the road. Imagine how much smaller the figure would be if all of those drivers had the desire to become safe drivers, rather than to just scrape a pass for their driving test with the minimum amount of lessons?

Think about it for a second. Do you want to sacrifice your life (and other people’s) for the sake of shaving off a few hours and saving £100?

There is a myth out there that driving instructors want to stretch out the number of lessons as much as possible. That if they could they’d make you have to take 100 lessons before you could take your test.

This is just untrue.

Every driving instructor has a responsibility to you. They would rather be accused of stretching out lessons than be the one who rushed through 20 lessons for a young person to pass their test only to die in a car crash months later.

That is why we’re not going to tell you what the average number of lessons it takes to pass. We don’t want to add to the idea that the point of driving lessons is to learn the bare minimum in the minimal amount of time to squeeze through a pass.

It will take you as long as it will and as many lessons as it will to be a safe and confident driver.

Remember, your safety is worth far more than any amount of money you think you’ll be saving by rushing things.

www.thedrivingskool.com

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