In the UK, there are limitations on learner drivers as to where they can or can’t drive when practising for their driving test.
Driving on A, B or C roads is permitted with a provisional driver’s licence, provided a qualified driver is in the vehicle and with the appropriate learner driver insurance. However, driving on the motorway can only be done under specific circumstances when preparing for your practical test.
While most dual carriageways are not motorways, a few are. Hence, it is essential to be alert to road numbering and avoid driving illegally. Any roads numbered with an M are considered motorways (e.g., M25).
So, can learner drivers drive on dual carriageways?
Dual carriageways are regional A roads that travel between towns and cities. A dual carriageway is a road that consists of 2 lanes going in either direction.
Being aware that there are sections of motorways with two lanes instead of the standard three, which may appear to be a dual carriageway. There are also sections of A road that have three lanes but are not classified as motorways.
Learner drivers can practice for their driving test by driving on dual carriageway roads. As with any driving practice (other than learner driver motorway lessons), learners must be accompanied by a driving instructor or a person qualified to be a second driver, such as a parent or friend.
You may also like: Do you need insurance to supervise a learner driver?
Dual carriageway driving is often included in the practical driving test, so it is advisable to practice driving on these roads during your driving lessons.
Dual carriageways are similar to motorways as they have the same speed limits, are separated by barriers in the centre of the road, and a slip road usually accesses them.
However, there are also some key differences. Learner drivers on motorways must be accompanied by an approved driving instructor and be in a vehicle with dual controls. Non-compliance will result in a hefty fine and a mark on your driving record.
Motorways also don’t allow cyclists, pedestrians, motorbikes with engines under 50cc, or tractors to drive on them. At the same time, these forms of transport can be present on dual carriageways.
The motorway has a hard shoulder, whereas the dual carriageway does not. The hard shoulder is a small emergency lane found on the motorway, allowing vehicles in trouble to get off the road. It is to be used strictly for breakdowns or emergencies.
You use the right-hand lane to overtake and turn right on a dual carriageway. Still, with motorway driving, it is only used for overtaking – right turns are facilitated by a slipway and an over or underpass.
While dual carriageway driving is more accessible and less stressful than driving on the motorway, it still takes some time to learn. The benefit of driving on these roads is that you don’t have to have an approved driving instructor to teach you. Make sure to get temporary student car insurance before going on motorway lessons.
Instead, young drivers can enlist the help of their parents or older friends to teach them to drive, unlike if they were to drive on the motorway. We’ve listed a few critical tips on what to master when learning to drive on a 2-lane A road.
When joining a dual carriageway, you’ll often make use of a slipway, which is designed to assist you in picking up the speed required to merge into the traffic on the road.
To do this successfully, you’ll need to practise judging the speed of other cars and timing your entry well. Make sure to remember to indicate when merging into a lane.
The terms ‘fast lane’ and ‘slow lane’ are incorrect and should be ignored. In reality, the right-hand lane is designated for overtaking and right turns, whereas the left lane is for driving and left turns.
Staying in the left lane at all times other than when you need to overtake or turn right is advisable, especially for learner drivers. It also makes it easier to stick to the speed limit.
Maintaining a safe following distance is important when driving. Using the 2-second rule, you can quickly figure out if you need to leave more space between you and the vehicle in front of you.
When heading towards a landmark, such as a bridge or a slipway, count the number of seconds it takes to reach it once the car in front of you has passed it. You need to increase your following distance if it is less than 2 seconds.
The 2-second rule will become the 4-second rule when it rains or snows. Wet or icy roads make stopping difficult, and a longer following distance is required to avoid accidents.
Mirrors help you to see when it is safe to change lanes and allow you to judge the speed of those behind you when you want to merge into or leave the carriageway. Mirror checking is essential to your driving test, so be sure to learn this one nicely.
Being alert while navigating busy roads is crucial. The more alert you are, the lower the likelihood of you being in an accident.
There are often holidaymakers driving on these busy roads, and they are likely to be quite tired, which can cause them to drift, which is very dangerous for other drivers. If you stay alert, you’ll be able to notice this and avoid an accident.
A person who wishes to teach learner drivers must have a full driving licence from the UK, EU, Lichtenstein, Iceland, Switzerland or Norway. They must be over 25 years of age and must have had their licence for no less than three years.
Driving instructors must not use their mobile phones while giving lessons (motorway lessons in particular) and must always be alert. They must also ensure that the learner driver adheres to the road rules and does not exceed the speed limit.
Approved driving instructors may only give motorway driving lessons – no parents, friends, or trainee driving instructors are permitted to take learner car drivers onto the motorway.
These lessons must also take place in a vehicle with dual controls so that the driving instructor can take over in an emergency or if a problem arises.
In England, Scotland and Wales, younger drivers still learning to drive are allowed to drive at the same maximum speed limit as experienced drivers. However, Northern Ireland has a speed limit of 45mph for all learners and newly qualified drivers (for the first year).
Learner drivers can drive on the motorway in England, Scotland and Wales, but not Northern Ireland. An approved driving instructor must give motorway driving lessons using a vehicle with dual controls.
Driving on dual carriageways with a driving instructor is an excellent way for learner drivers to improve their driving skills and increase confidence before driving on motorways.
Varied practice helps drivers to learn the rules of the road and to gain a practical understanding of the highway code and road safety points covered in the theory test.