If you’ve been hiding under a rock recently, you might not be aware that from June 4th, learner drivers will be able to drive on the motorway—under the supervision of an Approved Driving Instructor. This will have a huge impact on learner drivers and other road users alike. The motivation behind this new change is to increase road safety and give learners the skills they need to tackle one of the more difficult aspects of driving: motorways. The question you might be asking then is, should you take motorway lessons with your instructor?
We’ve put together a handy guide below—taking you through what might be covered in motorway lessons in addition to the pros and cons.
Motorway lessons with your instructor
Motorway driving is the realm of the unknown to learner drivers, which can make it extremely daunting. While motorways can be some of the safest roads out there, they’re still pretty intimidating. Additionally, there’s plenty that you need to get to grips with when driving on the motorway.
Fortunately, this inexperience that newly qualified drivers have with driving on the motorway will soon be a thing of the past. With your instructor, you’ll learn how to acclimatise to the high speeds and become a pro at checking your mirrors, anticipating any adjustments you may need to make further down the line.
Before we look at the exact benefits, we’re going to briefly summarise some of the skills you’ll learn if you choose to take motorway lessons with your instructor…
- Joining the motorway. You have to get your speed up quickly on the slip-road—watching out for any standstill traffic—whilst finding a gap where it’s safe to join.
- Correct lane usage. The middle and right lanes of the motorway are used for overtaking. If the left lane is clear, stay there. If it’s not, use the other lanes to overtake.
- Overtaking. Not only do you have to be skilled at correct lane usage, you have to know when is the best time to look for gaps and overtake.
- Correct speed. Whilst the legal limit on UK motorways is 70 mph, you may need to drive more slowly due to traffic, temporary speed limits or other hazards.
- Break down plan. If you need to stop your car (in emergencies only!) you’ll have to use the hard shoulder and call for help at one of the emergency phones.
For a better look at motorway driving and the skills you need to learn, check out our ultimate motorway driving guide.
Reasons to take motorway lessons with your instructor…
① Valuable experience
Motorway lessons with an instructor enable you to experience motorway driving in a safe environment. The instructor is trained to take over in any situation and their dual controlled car enables them to do so. If you opt not to take motorway lessons, you’ll lack the skills you need to safely drive on motorways. It’s all well and good knowing the theory behind the motorways, but experience itself is far more valuable. With the support of your instructor, you’ll be able to build up a practical understanding of driving on motorways safely. Eventually, you’ll be able to tackle them unsupervised once you’ve passed your practical test.
② Great for confidence
If you decide to tackle motorway driving by yourself instead of taking motorway lessons with your instructor, then you’ll probably lack confidence with facing motorways. A lot of newly qualified drivers are put off motorways—whether it’s the high speeds or fear of the unknown—which means they often try to avoid them at all costs. Additionally, this nervousness breeds carelessness or bad habits. If you learn with an experienced instructor, however, motorways will no longer be the “unknown”. This means that you’ll be able to boost your confidence with each lesson.
③ Easy integration
If you decide to take motorway lessons with your instructor as you’re learning to drive, it will make for an easier learning experience. You’ll start by learning the basic skills like clutch control, moving onto road types like one-way systems before progressing onto dual carriageways. And once your instructor feels like you’re ready, they’ll have you trying out motorway driving. They’ll prepare you fully beforehand—showing you diagrams and explaining the entire process. By the end of your course, you’ll wonder why you were so nervous about motorways!
④ For other road users
Still convinced you don’t need to take motorway lessons with your instructor? Whether it’s due to a nervous reluctance to do so or over-confidence with your own ability, you need to remember that you’re not the only driver on the road. If you try motorways by yourself without the proper knowledge or skill, you’ll put yourself and other road users in danger. By taking lessons with an expert, you’ll learn the proper procedure for everything from lane usage to overtaking. Building up this experience means you’ll be less likely to make silly, nervous mistakes.
⑤ Who better to teach you?
When you’re going through the process of learning to drive, your instructor will end up being one of the people you’ll spend most of your time with. There are many ups and downs involved with learning to drive, but your instructor will be there the entire way through. So, who’s better qualified to teach you how to drive on motorways? They know better than anyone how confident you are and how far along your driving skills are, making them the best candidate for teaching you how to drive safely on motorways. Plus, the vast majority of instructors are behind the concept of motorway lessons—check out our instructors’ opinions on motorway lessons.
Are there any disadvantages?
Clearly there are many advantages attached to taking motorway lessons with your instructor. So what about disadvantages? Funnily enough, there aren’t really any disadvantages to motorway lessons. After all, it’s incredibly useful experience to build up on—pushing you to become a safe driver on motorways. It’s also beneficial in increasing overall road safety.
The only disadvantage a learner might have is if they’re nervous or reluctant to try motorway driving. This may explain why, as covered in our December 2018 news roundup, many aren’t choosing to do. Despite this, we’d still advise doing so with your instructor. After all, there’s no such thing as too much experience when it comes to driving.