Can a learner drive on a motorway?

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The law changed in 2018 to allow leaner drivers to get motorway driving experience. Prior to this, learner drivers were prohibited from get driving experience on motorways until they passed their driving test.  The motorways in NI are much less congested than in the UK, but if you are a nervous driver, the only option to get motorway driving experience was to pay for extra instructor lessons after you had passed your test. 

Another alternative is to complete the Pass Plus scheme, which may also help you qualify for cheaper new car driver insurance. The Pass Plus course is aimed at provided new drivers with additional skills to make them safer drivers. The plus pass course consist of 6 modules as follows:

  • Driving in all weathers
  • Motorway driving
  • County or rural road driving
  • Dual carriageway driving
  • Driving in town

Can you drive on a motorway with a provisional license?

Yes, it is now possible for provisional licence holders to drive on motorways, but they must be accompanied by a qualified instructor with driving school fleet insurance. The vehicle must also have dual controls so if something did happen unexpected, the instructor can take control of the car.

Do learners have a different speed limit on the motorway?

Leaners must stay within the motorway speed limits, which is currently 70mph.  Driving too slowly on the motorway can be a hazard, so stay within the limits and drive at sensible speed based on road conditions, or take the lead from other more experienced drivers. The highway code provides advice and guidance that you should study before driving on motorways or dual carriageway. See highway code section 259 on matching your speed to the traffic flow whilst in the left lane.  

Improved Safety Measures for newly qualified drivers

The ministry of environment have enacted the following rules in order to improve safety and reduce new driver road accidents. 20% of accidents are attributable to young drivers aged 17-21, whilst they represent only 7% of licence holders. The measures announced include: 

  • Minimum of 12 month learning period for new drivers
  • Learner drivers permitted to drive on motorways and dual carriageways, but must be accompanied by a qualified driving instructor. 
  • County or rural road driving
  • For the first six months, newly qualified drivers are only allowed to have immediate family as passengers. This restriction apples to all new drivers 24 and under. 
  • 45mph restriction for new drivers scrapped

Restricted passengers to close family should have a big impact on the number of road accidents, as a young driver you mostly wish to impress throe friends and unfortunately for many that entails driving too fast, Speed without experience is a recipe for disaster. These measures may also help reduce the costs of learner driver insurance and newly qualified river insurance in both NI and the UK.  

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