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Will lessons on motorways tackle new drivers’ lack of confidence?

Learner drivers across England, Wales and Scotland are, as of Monday 4 June, allowed to have lessons on the motorway. This move is in order to ensure new drivers feel confident in their ability to drive on motorways – something the AA-Populus Motoring Poll, the largest dedicated motoring online panel in Europe, has found not to presently be the case. These lessons will have to be with approved instructors, and are required to take place in cars fitted with both L Plates and dual controls.

The AA-Populus Motoring Panel explores a wide range of motoring issues varying from the likely impact of the Government’s proposed ban on new conventional petrol and diesel cars from 2040, and views on the future of green motoring, to the impact of the ‘Beast from the East’. The March survey of the AA-Populus Motoring Panel finds that:

• Over half (56%) said they drove on a motorway soon after passing their driving test
• Over a quarter of panellists (27%) said they felt scared the first time they went on the motorway after passing their driving test.
• Far fewer respondents (66% as compared to at least 90% for all other road types) said they felt confident when driving on motorways after passing their test.
• Over three quarters of respondents (77%) said the behaviour of other drivers e.g. tailgating, speeding etc. made them feel nervous when driving on the motorway; 55% cite adverse weather conditions, while 42% are put off by large trucks and lorries.

The nervousness people feel is at odds with the fact that motorways are the safest roads to drive on (in terms of the number of fatalities per year – p17). Commenting on the changes, road safety minister Jesse Norman stated:

“Britain’s roads are among the safest in the world, but road collisions remain the second biggest killer of young people.

“Allowing learner drivers to have motorway lessons with a qualified road safety expert will help more young drivers to gain the skills and experience they need to drive safely on motorways.”

Populus’s findings show that the minister’s views are shared by motorists, with 33% of respondents believing that having a motorway lesson prior to taking their test would have made them a safer driver. Moreover, over half (54%) would have liked an opportunity to have had a motorway lesson before their test.

Find out more about the AA-Populus Motoring Panel here. Populus’s wide range of research solutions gives brands and organisations in the automotive sector insight into what matters most to the people who matter most to them. For example, see our research for the AA / BT’s Fleet solutions.

This poll asked members of the AA Populus panel about learning to drive on motorways. Populus received 20,496 responses from AA panel members to its online poll between 13 and 19 March 2018. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.populus.co.uk

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