PLANS to allow learner drivers to take lessons on motorways have been backed by a leading road safety organisation.
Advanced drivers' group IAM RoadSmart says the proposals to overhaul driver training will lead to an improvement in driving standards.
Under the changes set out by Transport Minister Andrew Jones learner drivers will be able to undergo instruction on motorways for the first time if accompanied by a qualified driving instructor in a vehicle fitted with dual controls.
Other changes being planned include a crackdown on motorcycle training with novice riders being required to take a theory test as part of their compulsory basic training and for provisional motorcyclists to face a ban if they acquire six penalty points.
At the moment learner drivers are prohibited from motorways and their only experience of 70mph motoring is allowed on dual carriageways.
"It makes no sense that new drivers learn by trial and, often fatal, error how to use our fastest and most important roads," said Neil Greig, director of policy and research for IAM RoadSmart.
"Allowing learners on motorways with an approved instructor is a sensible and measured solution that should deliver drivers who are much better able to cope with complex new smart motorways."
Following Mr Jones' announcement, the Department for Transport and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency have jointly launched consultations seeking views which will run until February 17, 2017. The changes could take effect by 2018.
On the changes to motorcycle training, Mr Greig said: "These proposals close two obvious loopholes that IAM RoadSmart has been highlighting with motorcycle industry training partners.
"A theory test should always be the first step for any motorised road user before they reach the road. The six penalty point approach also finally brings motorcycle users in line with the New Driver's Act for car drivers."