Learner drivers will be able to have lessons on motorways after ministers pledged to lift a ban in a bid to improve road safety.
The change will come into effect in 2018 when the drivers will be allowed onto motorways for the first time as long as they are accompanied by an approved instructor in a dual control car.
It is hoped giving drivers more experience before they pass their test will end the practice of middle lane hoggers who are unaware of the rules of the road.
Edmund King, the President of the AA, said explaining to people which lane they should be in could help reduce congestion because slower drivers would know not to block the outside lanes.
He told The Sunday Telegraph: “If people use motorways properly it would free up capacity. If people are hogging the middle lane you are losing one third of the motorway.
“If you had people taught lane discipline you would free up that capacity.”
The ban on learners driving on the motorway until after they have passed their test means that for many their first experience of using the roads is as a new driver.
As a result many may be unaware of rules relating to lane discipline, set out in the Highway Code, which state that motorists should always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear.
If learners aren’t allowed to practise on motorways under supervision then some will avoid motorways, and others will use motorways incorrectly when they have passed their test
Meanwhile, if you are overtaking slower-moving vehicles you should return to the left-hand lane as soon as you are safely past.
Mr King said that AA research suggested that 13,000 drivers a day plan their route to avoid motorways, many out of fear, despite the fact that statistically they are the UK’s safest roads.
He welcomed lifting the ban on learner drivers and said the move would help improve road safety. He said: “You see lots of new drivers driving at 25 miles per hour on motorways which is dangerous.
“Also, on lane discipline, many of the middle lane hogs say that they thought it was for doing 60 miles per hour.
“They have never been taught lane discipline.” Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, announced the decision and said that while the UK already has some of the safest roads in the world “we want to make them even safer”.
He said: “Younger drivers are up to seven times more likely to be killed or seriously injured compared with drivers over twenty-five and lack of experience is an important factor.
“Allowing learners to drive on motorways in a supportive environment will help them develop a practical understanding of how to use motorways safely before driving independently.”
The Government consulted on the change earlier this year having announced its intention at the tail end of 2016 to lift the ban.
Jasmine Halstead, head of learning and development for British School of Motoring, said the move would help stop motorists driving “incorrectly” on motorways.
She said: “If learners aren’t allowed to practise on motorways under supervision then some will avoid motorways, and others will use motorways incorrectly when they have passed their test.
“Hence it is great news for road safety that learners will be able to drive on motorways under supervision.”
Lesley Young, the DVSA’s chief driving examiner, echoed a similar sentiment and said: “This change will ensure that new drivers, with their instructor, will experience motorway driving and learn about the importance of the signs and signals, lane discipline and joining and leaving safely.”
Pete Williams, the RAC’s road safety spokesman, said motorists were “overwhelmingly supportive” of the move.
He said: “While motorways are statistically our safest roads, it can be daunting using them for the first time after passing the driving test. Giving learners the option to gain valuable experience on our fastest and busiest roads should further improve safety and enhance the confidence of new drivers.”
The changes will apply to England, Wales and Scotland. New powers introduced by the Government in 2013 allowed police to issue fixed penalty notices for careless driving offences like tailgating or middle lane hogging.