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The Latest for New and Learner Drivers

Are you learning to drive, or have you recently passed your test? If the answer is yes to either of those questions, you may benefit from having a read of this article. This blog post will offer you an insight into the latest news about what new and learner drivers are now facing. We understand how difficult it already is to learn and successfully pass your test and if this is the case for you currently, these new legislations may not be the news you want to hear. However, the proposed changes could have a better impact in the long-run and could benefit many people.

Motorway driving for learners
As we are all aware, one aspect every learner driver hates is motorway driving. This topic has always caused a lot of controversy amongst the public; many have found it hard to understand why learner drivers are not taught the skills they need to be able to confidently drive on the motorway, especially for when they have first passed their test. The argument has been raised for many years as to how new drivers can be expected to drive safely on the motorway, alone, without any experience other than dual carriageway.

Up until recently, the government scheme that has been available to new drivers is the ‘Pass Plus’ scheme. This is a voluntary service that you do have to pay for and is for newly qualified drivers to increase their confidence and skills whilst driving. The Pass Plus training takes place for at least 6 hours and increases driving skills in the following areas:
- In town
- In all weather
- On rural roads
- At night
- On dual carriageways
- On motorways
The sessions are practical-based and although there is no final test, you will be assessed in each module. Once you have completed and successfully passed the course, you will receive a certificate that can qualify you for a discount on your insurance. Especially younger drivers, family members and parents feel reassured by the Pass Plus scheme, as it is extra experience for new drivers and they are also able to drive on the motorway for the first time with professional assistance.

Although Pass Plus will still be available, from June 4th 2018, learner drivers will be able to drive on the motorway during their lessons, for the first time. This change in the law has been approved with the intention of helping to ensure more drivers will understand how to use the motorways safely.

The details on how this change is going to work are by learner drivers being accompanied by an approved driving instructor, driving a car fitted with dual controls. The motorway driving during lessons will be voluntary; the driving instructor will need to determine whether the learner driver is competent enough for the motorway. It is important to note that until this law changes on June 4th 2018, it will remain illegal for learner drivers to drive on the motorway. This change only applies to learner drivers of cars, those learning to drive motorcycles will still not be allowed on motorways. As well as this, trainee driving instructors will not be allowed to take learner drivers on the motorway, only fully qualified instructors. Motorway driving is not being introduced to driving tests within this new change. The Highway Code rules for motorway driving will, therefore, be updated because of the new law.

The overall aim for bringing this new change is to prepare drivers for a lifetime of safe driving. The following are just a few reasons as to what this change should allow learner drivers to achieve:
- Gain a broader experience of driving before they take their test.
- Be trained on how to confidently and safely join and leave the motorway, overtaking and using the lanes   correctly for their purposes.
- Have practise with driving at higher speeds.
- Understand what the motorway specific traffic signs mean.
- Know what to do if a vehicle breaks down on the motorway.
- Gain and improve their confidence when driving on motorways unsupervised after passing their driving test.

Due to these changes that are going ahead, Highways England is now predicting a smarter generation of motorway users, as it will hopefully abolish the potentially daunting and frightening experience for newly qualified drivers. The head of Road Safety at Highways England, Richard Leonard commented on the new law, saying “safety is our number one priority and we welcome today’s change which will help equip learner drivers to drive safely on motorways when they have passed their tests”. December 2016 was when the Department for Transport first consulted on these changes and received a wide support from learner drivers, the driver training industry, road safety organisations and the general public. These changes will only be applied to England, Wales and Scotland.

Probationary period for newly qualified drivers
This proposed scheme is not yet confirmed, so if you are a newly qualified driver and you are not happy with these potential changes, you may not need to be concerned just yet. These suggested plans will apply to first-time drivers and would involve them being given a probationary licence that may prohibit new drivers from driving at night.

Prime Minister Theresa May stated early in February that the Department for Transport would review the case for a ‘Graduated’ licence that limits young drivers depending on their experience. This review has emerged from concerns surrounding the high proportion of accidents that younger drivers are involved in shortly after passing their tests. Figures produced by the government have shown that young drivers between the ages of 17 and 24 are involved in over a quarter of accidents that result in death or serious injury, even though this age group makes up only 7% of total licence holders.

This proposed scheme will involve drivers being restricted during their probationary period, for what is likely to be between one and two years. Incorporated into the restriction would be a night-time driving ban and a limit restriction of the number of passengers a new driver could carry in their vehicle. The system also covers learner drivers, with proposed changes such as a statutory 12 month learning period, something that has been suggested previously.

This proposed pledge has been put forward by the PM following the call for a new system for younger drivers from Darlington MP, Jenny Chapman. Theresa May has commented that “there are too many people who suffer a loss and tragedy at the hands of learner drivers and we will look at that”. There has already been reform put in place for learner drivers such as satellite navigation driving and performing a bay park on the opposite side of the road. Many road safety groups have welcomed May’s proposed changes and are hoping that the scheme will be confirmed.

Although this may not be popular with a lot of learner and new drivers, it could be the incentive that reduces a lot of unnecessary road accidents and fatal incidents. With countries such as New Zealand and Australia already having such measures in place, it may only be a matter of time before they are confirmed and put into action here.

Are these changes for the better?
At TFS, we believe change that brings a safer driving experience on the roads is overwhelmingly positive. Giving learner drivers the opportunity to gain experience and knowledge of motorway driving can work heavily in favour of not only new drivers, but also experienced drivers too. The notion of having to drive on a motorway is worse than the reality in most cases, something that drivers come to realise once they have mastered the motorway. However this cannot take away from the fact that for first-time drivers, motorway driving is intimidating and not having the appropriate set of skills, only enhances the concern. With this new law, drivers are likely to feel more at ease when they have passed and are able to drive on motorways alone.

As for the proposed scheme of a probationary licence for newly qualified drivers, this will of course have its advantages and disadvantages. The negative impact this could have is that, potentially, many learner drivers will be put off by these changes and would have to rely on other modes of transport. Although this could be good for emissions output, it may limit people with regards to jobs and other responsibilities. Another disadvantage could be that the strict guidelines that would be put in place could also negatively impact someone’s lifestyle. The prevention of driving at night could be difficult for those who have jobs that involve night shifts or late night working. However, the positive impact this could potentially have on the general public is huge. It could mean a significant drop in road incidents overall by creating safer and more responsible drivers. This one advantage alone appears to outway the disadvantages and this could be deemed a strong enough argument for ministers to approve these plans.

No matter the rules and regulations for new drivers, they can always prove a worry for family members, parents and the learner driver themselves. This is why creating the best possible situation for new drivers is crucial; this involves elements such as the right driving lessons and instructors for you, the right attitude towards driving, remaining sensible and safe and finally, the right vehicle.

One of the more challenging aspects for new drivers is transitioning from what is usually a newer, comfortable vehicle that is easy to learn in and to drive, to an older, smaller and more difficult car to drive, in a lot of cases. This is due to a number of reasons, mostly down to budget; a lot of new and young drivers can simply not afford to buy newer and more desirable cars. This is when an option such as taking out a personal car lease deal can be beneficial to a significant number of newly qualified drivers. Drivers are able to lease newer cars that are more comfortable and can be much safer options in comparison to what they may be able to afford if purchasing a vehicle outright. This can give a lot of loved one's peace of mind, as well as filling the driver with more confidence and reassurance.

If you are a newly qualified driver, or a learner driver and are considering options for your first car, you can browse our website and find a range of cheap personal car lease deals to suit you. We aim to make the car leasing process as straightforward as possible, which is why we provide a step by step guide on how to order  with us. If you have any questions or require more specific information, contact us our advisers will be happy to help.

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Posted on 13th March 2018 at 9:25 AM

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