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Author Topic: The Driving Test and Motorways  (Read 3359 times)

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Offline Irisado

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The Driving Test and Motorways
« on: December 23, 2015, 07:08:34 AM »
A news item which has intrigued me lately is the question of how to resolve the problem of drivers in the UK passing their test and being able to drive on motorways without actually ever having driven on a motorway while they were learning.  For those of you who are not in the UK, learner drivers are not allowed to drive on motorways, and so never have any practice on driving on them, yet can drive on a motorway as soon as they have passed their test.  As you might imagine, suddenly going onto a motorway with no previous experience of driving on one can be quite intimidating and possibly dangerous.

The current way around this is for new drivers to take what is called the Pass Plus course after passing their test, which includes one session on motorway driving with their instructor.  I did this and it's really helpful, but it's only one afternoon, so I still felt rather apprehensive about motorway driving.  As a result, I'm of the view that more motorway driving experience would have been beneficial to me, as I'm still very reluctant to drive on them.

There has recently been a renewed drive towards making motorway driving an integral and compulsory part of learning how to drive and the test.  It sounds like a great idea for improving safety and driving standards on paper, and initially I thought that it was a great idea.  A few minutes after the item was initially aired on the radio, however, it occurred to me that there is a serious implementation problem with the idea.  This is that there are a lot of areas of the UK where there are no motorways within a reasonable driving distance.  Norfolk is one obvious example, along with whole of the north of Scotland, so how would drivers here be able to learn on motorways?

It seems, therefore, that there is no easy solution to this.  I'm curious as to what the rest of you think about this subject, and whether anyone has any other ideas to solve this perennial problem.

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Offline The GrimSqueaker

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Re: The Driving Test and Motorways
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2015, 11:57:01 AM »
I know for the Kiwi and US tests there was no motorway requirement. Which, like you, when it came time to start using (US) motorways it was a "HOLY beslubberING CHRIST!" experience. The region where I got my Kiwi license was rather sedate so the motorways were not relatively different from the city streets for hundreds of kms in either direction.
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Offline Grand Master Lomandalis

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Re: The Driving Test and Motorways
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2015, 12:08:46 PM »
It sounds like the UK / US / Kiwi licensing processes have two steps: beginner and licensed.  That may be the issue.

In Ontario there is a gradual licensing process.  When you first get your license, you are given a G1 where you can not drive on any road with a speed greater than 80kph; can't drive on any of the 400 series (with the 401 being the busiest highway in North America); and must have a fully licensed driver in the car with you.  This will set you up with the basic driving skills to pass your first driving test.

The second stage is having your G2, where there are no restrictions on where you can drive, and you don't need anyone with you.  Granted, it is still kind of being thrown into the deep end in that you can driving on the highways.  But the final test to get your G license does require you drive on the highway (I believe).
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Re: The Driving Test and Motorways
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2015, 12:27:00 PM »
NZ has a three stage system as well. Learner -> Restricted -> Full.
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Offline Irisado

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Re: The Driving Test and Motorways
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2015, 12:33:29 PM »
In the UK, obtaining a provisional licence is required to be a learner driver, but that does not qualify you to drive unaccompanied.  This is why it's often not viewed as being a stage, although it probably ought to be.  After that, once you've passed your test, that's it, there are no further required stages.  The Pass Plus is optional, although I would say that it's an essential requirement, and I'd recommend anyone who passes their test to do it.

The maximum speed limits (i.e. outside of  in the UK (for cars) are 60mph on ordinary roads, and 70mph for dual carriageways and motorways.  In theory, therefore, it may be possible to have a two tier system if we were to employ a speed system, as there are plenty of dual carriageways across England.  The problem again would be rural areas of Wales and Scotland.

Our geography really isn't conducive to resolving this problem, which is one reason why it has remained an issue which has been talked about, rather than dealt with, for so long.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2015, 12:35:57 PM by Irisado »
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Offline Alienscar

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Re: The Driving Test and Motorways
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2015, 05:39:35 PM »
For those of you who are not in the UK, learner drivers are not allowed to drive on motorways, and so never have any practice on driving on them, yet can drive on a motorway as soon as they have passed their test.  As you might imagine, suddenly going onto a motorway with no previous experience of driving on one can be quite intimidating and possibly dangerous.

I have never understood this attitude towards motorway driving. I have always thought that if a person hasn't the confidence to drive on a motorway then it is a personal thing rather than a driving test problem. The driving test doesn't teach you how to drive on unlit B roads at night or how to drive on snow but I don't see anyone asking for these hazards to be added to the driving test. Also don't the experts always say that mile for mile motoways are the safest roads to travel on.

The proposal is to allow learners to take lessons in a dual control car not to make it compulsory.
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Offline Spectral Arbor

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Re: The Driving Test and Motorways
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2015, 06:02:41 PM »
I'm also a member of the graduated licensing in Ontario. I also lived in a small town when I was learning [and am super grateful to have returned!] so driving on the 80 kph highways between towns was basically the same as driving on the 100 kph highways, except there were more lanes to potentially merge into.

I never had an issue moving out onto multi-lane highways, but I was also as immortal as a Necron when I was younger, so that probably helped. ;)

Offline Irisado

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Re: The Driving Test and Motorways
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2015, 06:53:43 PM »
I have never understood this attitude towards motorway driving. I have always thought that if a person hasn't the confidence to drive on a motorway then it is a personal thing rather than a driving test problem. The driving test doesn't teach you how to drive on unlit B roads at night or how to drive on snow but I don't see anyone asking for these hazards to be added to the driving test. Also don't the experts always say that mile for mile motoways are the safest roads to travel on.

It would be touch difficulty to add compulsory driving on snow to a driving test in most of the UK ;).  Other elements, such as night driving, are included in the Pass Plus, but again not the actual test.  You're right about the statistics, it's a matter of perception though.  The sheer speed of the traffic and the number of vehicles is the factor which makes motorways seem more dangerous to some people.

Quote
The proposal is to allow learners to take lessons in a dual control car not to make it compulsory.

It would become a compulsory part of the test, according to the news bulletins I heard.  That appears to be being contradicted by some online reports posted today though, so there certainly seems to be some confusion.

There is going to be a consultation process, so perhaps that will provide some clarity.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2015, 06:56:23 PM by Irisado »
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Offline Grand Master Lomandalis

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Re: The Driving Test and Motorways
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2015, 08:55:10 PM »
I think we can all agree that if you watch Canada's Worst Driver, then that is the kind of driving instruction we need around the world.

Seriously, YouTube and episodes.  It is awesome and terrifying all at the same time.
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Offline Alienscar

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Re: The Driving Test and Motorways
« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2015, 11:31:56 AM »
It would be touch difficulty to add compulsory driving on snow to a driving test in most of the UK ;).  Other elements, such as night driving, are included in the Pass Plus, but again not the actual test.  You're right about the statistics, it's a matter of perception though.  The sheer speed of the traffic and the number of vehicles is the factor which makes motorways seem more dangerous to some people.

Well I didn't say it should be compulsory. It makes me laugh that people bang on about how dangerous motorway driving is perceived to be but then happily try and drive in ice/snow. I see the issue that people have with motorway driving as just one of confidence. To me it is no different than people who say that they don't like parallel parking or reversing after they have passed their test. Personally I am not sure that confidence is something that can be taught.
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Offline Grand Master Lomandalis

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Re: The Driving Test and Motorways
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2015, 11:48:19 AM »
I disagree that confidence can not be taught.  With the proper training and practice, people will gain confidence and be able to do things they didn't think they could do before, regardless of what the skill is.

Use this hobby as an example.  Were you confident in your rules knowledge / modelling skills / painting skills / playing skills when you first started?  How long did it take before you were?
If there is anything that recent politics has taught us, it is that quotes taken out of context can mean what ever you want them to.
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Offline Alienscar

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Re: The Driving Test and Motorways
« Reply #11 on: December 24, 2015, 12:23:38 PM »
Fair comments GML but using this hobby as an example could it not be said that if I was not confident to start with then I wouldn't have entered a store full of strangers to buy the rules or take part in an introductory game. From a driving test point of view though I would suggest that the amount of training needed to turn all of the nervous drivers into confident drivers would cost too much.
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Offline Irisado

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Re: The Driving Test and Motorways
« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2015, 12:30:38 PM »
Considering I was a very nervous driver, yet I went on to pass my test first time, I would say that it depends a lot on the individual circumstances involved.

Confidence can definitely be taught and it also comes with experience.  The more you do something that you find difficult, the better you (usually) become at doing it.  Learning to drive is actually a prime example of this in my case.  My first month of lessons were really challenging, because I am not naturally gifted at practical skills, so balancing the clutch and accelerator was a nightmare.  I got much better at it, because I was taught by an excellent driving instructor, who build my confidence up over time.  As a result, the combination of confidence and experience meant that driving became easier for me.
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Offline Calamity

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Re: The Driving Test and Motorways
« Reply #13 on: December 24, 2015, 01:43:00 PM »
I passed my practical test first time as well, but only by the skin of my teeth.  One more bad mark would have pushed it to a fail.  And I failed the theory test first time as well.  But despite all that I consider myself a natural driver.   I took to it pretty readily with little nerves.  And over 5 years later, still no accidents!

I agree though that we should bring in some way to teach people how to adapt to driving on the motorways as part of their main test, because it's always pretty daunting to make the jump.  That, and frankly I'm so tired of getting stuck behind R drivers on the motorway who have no idea of what they're doing. :P 

Offline Alienscar

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Re: The Driving Test and Motorways
« Reply #14 on: December 24, 2015, 04:42:57 PM »
As a result, I'm of the view that more motorway driving experience would have been beneficial to me, as I'm still very reluctant to drive on them.

Considering I was a very nervous driver, yet I went on to pass my test first time, I would say that it depends a lot on the individual circumstances involved.

No offence intended Irisado but I see this kind of statement as part of the problem with the test process. A process that allows nervous drivers to pass is somehow flawed in my opinion.

Skills can be taught but confidence is a state of mind

I passed my test on the third attempt as I had to unlearn some bad habits I had picked up from my years of motorbike riding. My first vehicle was a motorbike and because of this I approached my driving test with too much confidence. Similar to Irisado it was my last instructor that helped the most as he was the one that told me stop driving like I was riding a bike.
I like motorway driving. You don't have to think about oncoming traffic and you can maintain a good average speed.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2015, 05:00:44 PM by Alienscar »
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Offline Irisado

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Re: The Driving Test and Motorways
« Reply #15 on: December 24, 2015, 04:52:19 PM »
There's a slight problem with saying nervous drivers passing tests makes the test flawed.  I have yet to meet anyone who was not nervous to some degree or other on the day of their test.  A lack of nerves often betrays that the person does not really care that much about what it is they are about to do, or is not particularly emotionally invested in it.  At the same time, being excessively nervous is a also an issue.  It's all about striking the right balance between confidence and nerves.

I was very nervous in the early stages of learning to drive, and much less so when I took my test.  I'd have been worried if I hadn't felt nervous at all though.  Similarly, I can drive on motorways if I have to, but I am more wary of doing so, because I rarely need to go onto them.  Joining the motorway is the most difficult part, in my experience.  Once on them, it gets easier.
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Re: The Driving Test and Motorways
« Reply #16 on: December 24, 2015, 05:05:27 PM »
I agree with that.  I always saw nerves as a sign that you were at least taking the thing seriously.  The nervous ones did ok on tests at least.  The cocky ones always failed.  :P

Offline The GrimSqueaker

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Re: The Driving Test and Motorways
« Reply #17 on: December 24, 2015, 05:38:13 PM »
Upon moving to the US I had to restart the entire license process as they don't, quite obviously and correctly, just allow you to transfer licenses internationally. Of course I'd been grey area using an International License (designed for tourists) for a few years prior to this as it was a case of "beslubber you, I don't want to." Like Alienscar I had to unlearn a lot of bad habits and short cuts that you learn and pick up along the way. For example - 10 & 2 hands. When my test instructor got into the vehicle I automatically assumed the one hand on the steering wheel and one hand on my leg or along the window frame. Yeah, no - points off. I passed first time both in Kiwiland and the US but I know the US instructor was being far easier on me than on a kid as she knew I had the experience *and* the bad habits from the experience.

As Irisado said merging on to a motorway is far more dangerous and stressful than merely using one. It's the start and finish that get you, not the journey along the way. Like air travel, it's the take off and landing that gets you more often than the journey itself.
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