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Motorway Tuition Guidelines

From Monday 4 June 2018, learner drivers have been allowed to take driving lessons on motorways in England, Scotland and Wales, to help make sure more drivers know how to use motorways safely.

Learner drivers will need to be:

  • accompanied by an approved driving instructor
  • driving a car fitted with dual controls

Any motorways lessons will be voluntary. It will be up to the driving instructor to decide when the learner driver is competent enough for them. Motorway driving isn’t being introduced to the driving test as part of this change.


The change is being well-publicised so that:

  • driving instructors and learner drivers are prepared
  • other road users know what to expect

Preparing drivers for a lifetime of safe driving

The changes are being made to allow learner drivers to:

  • get broader driving experience before taking their driving test
  • get training on how to join and leave the motorway, overtake and use lanes correctly
  • practise driving at higher speeds
  • understand motorway specific traffic signs
  • understand what to do if a vehicle breaks down on a motorway
  • improve their confidence to drive on the motorway unsupervised after passing their driving test

Learners need to understand how motorways work and that they are the safest of our roads as only 4% of crashes happen on motorways and account for just 5% of all fatalities. When they do occur however they tend to be serious because of the speeds involved. 

There are different rules that apply on motorways. The Highway Code has specific rules (253-273) though many of the other rules apply to motorway driving too. We would suggest an initial discussion with the learner before any practical on road motorway session begins.

It is recommended that such practical training takes place near to the end of a learner’s training, as they are approaching test standard, when all other aspects have been covered and they are at a competent level.  It is essential to ensure that any learner driving on a motorway is in full control of the vehicle, cognisant of the requirements of motorway driving, and confident in dealing with fast moving traffic situations.

Depending on where the learner is located, it may be useful to consider 2- or 3-hour sessions if necessary, this would also help students become more aware of driver fatigue and tiredness. If a learner lives near to a motorway after an initial practical session more motorway practice could be included. Where there is no motorway access, these topics can be delivered as a theory session, in discussion with Q&A, or set as homework, to be followed up with discussion during lessons.

Before taking learners onto the motorway it is essential to check that your insurance company includes comprehensive cover on motorways. It is also recommended that consideration is given to the type of ‘L’ plates that are to be used. Many top boxes can be used at high speed but it is advisable to check with the manufacturer about the maximum rated speed.  Also, be aware that the magnets become less powerful at the higher temperatures of summer use and in high winds. 

Skill requirements:

  • Effective observation
  • Good anticipation
  • Effective use of mirrors
  • Continual re-assessment of other vehicles
  • Reading the road ahead 
  • Joining from slip roads, judgement of speed and position of other vehicles
  • Following distances 
  • Safe overtaking
  • Courtesy to other road users

Topics to be covered:

  • Forward planning and observation
  • Reaction to other road users
  • Lane discipline
  • Safe lane changing
  • Separation distances
  • Reaction to road signs and markings
  • Awareness and planning
  • Judgement of faster moving traffic
  • Vehicle lighting requirements
  • Journey planning, use of Service Areas
  • How to avoid fatigue, adequate ventilation
  • Joining and leaving motorways, using acceleration and deceleration lanes
  • Emerging and safe overtaking
  • Assessing other traffic 
  • Understanding Crawler Lanes and slow-moving traffic
  • Dealing with LGVs, high sided vehicles, side winds and turbulence 
  • Driving in adverse weather conditions, high winds, rain, spray, fog, snow/ice 
  • Smart Motorways, Gantry Signs and lane use
  • Understanding Marker Posts and Safety Telephones
  • Accident and breakdown procedures
  • Dealing with multi-agency incidents
  • Dealing with contraflow and other road maintenance
  • Safe use of Hard Shoulders 
  • How to react to Emergency Vehicles and Highways Agency Officers

National Standards More details can be found in the National Standard for Driving Cars and Light Vans. The National Standard sets out the skills, knowledge and understanding that you need to be a safe and responsible driver of a car or light van. These are vehicles which fall into the driving licence for category B. All drivers of these vehicles must know, understand and apply the Standards at all times.

Role 3 Unit 3.1 Element 3.1.4 driving on motorways and dual carriageways.

The following link directs you to the National Standards for Driving Cars and Light Vans (Category B). We have selected the most relevant sections of this with regards to motorway driving, and these are below. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-standard-for-driving-cars-and-light-vans-category-b 

Role 1 - Prepare yourself and passengers for a journey
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-standard-for-driving-cars-and-light-vans-category-b/role-1-prepare-yourself-thevehicle-and-its-passengers-for-a-journey

Role 2 - Guide and control the vehicle (2.2.1 and 2.2.2)
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-standard-for-driving-cars-and-light-vans-category-b/role-2-guide-and-control-thevehicle

Role 3 - Use the road in accordance with the Highway Code
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-standard-for-driving-cars-and-light-vans-category-b/role-3-use-the-road-inaccordance-with-the-highway-code

Role 4 - Drive safely and responsibly in the traffic system
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-standard-for-driving-cars-and-light-vans-category-b/role-4-drive-safely-andresponsibly-in-the-traffic-system

Role 5 - Review and adjust driving behaviour over a lifetime
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-standard-for-driving-cars-and-light-vans-category-b/role-5-review-and-adjustdriving-behaviour-over-lifetime

Role 6 - Demonstrate developed skills, knowledge and understanding
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-standard-for-driving-cars-and-light-vans-category-b/role-6-demonstratedeveloped-skills-knowledge-and-understanding

For more rules on Motorway Driving, please refer to points 253 – 273 in The Highway Code.
(Many other Rules apply to motorway driving, either wholly or in part: Rules 46, 57, 83-126, 130-134, 139, 144, 146-151, 160, 161, 219, 221-222, 225, 226-237, 274-278, 280, and 281-290).