**NEW DRIVERS READ THIS**
Learner drivers are to be allowed to have driving lessons on motorways in an attempt to cut the death toll among novice motorists.
Under the plans it will be possible for learner drivers to undergo some training on a motorway.
The change, which will come into force next year, is intended to end the situation in which young drivers can be confronted with traffic driving at speeds of 70 mph or above without any preparation.
Under the plans announced by Mr Penning, it will be possible for learner drivers to undergo some training on a motorway but only if accompanied by a qualified driving instructor.
Addressing the Institute of Advanced Motorists, Mr Penning cited the example of his own daughter who, within minutes of having passed her test, would have been able to drive on a motorway.
The change, however, will not be made compulsory because of the difficulties learner drivers in remote areas of the country would face in finding a motorway within a reasonable distance of where they lived.
Underpinning the move is concern at the number of young drivers being killed and seriously injured on the countrys motorway.
According to figures compiled by the Department for Transport 82 drivers under 21 were involved in fatal motorway crashes between 2006 and 2010.
The initiative reflect growing ministerial concern at the current testing regime which, it is felt, does not prepare drivers for life behind the wheel
“Are we teaching young drivers to pass a test or are we giving them the skills to enjoy life on the road,” Mr Penning said.
Since taking office Mr Penning has stopped driving test centres publicising the routes which will be used during the examination.
He has also banned the publishing of answers to the theory test to prevent candidates learning by rote.
In a further change Mr Penning plans to ban trainee driving instructors giving lessons unless they themselves are supervised by a fully qualified colleague.
Currently trainee instructors can give tuition and the only indication a pupil has that their teacher is not fully qualified is a small screen sticker.
“I am going to put a stop to that,” Mr Penning told The Daily Telegraph. “I am going to stop people who are not qualified doing this. Some of these guys never get qualified.”
Motoring and safety groups welcomed the initiatives announced by Mr Penning.
“It is a good thing in principle, but the devil is in the detail. Going on a motorway is one of the things newly qualified drivers say frightens them,” said Robert Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety.
“Tightening the rules on driving instructors is very sensible and will improve consumer confidence in the driving instructor regime.”
The changes were hailed by Andrew Howard, the AAs head of road safety. “This is good news. It will end the ludicrous situation where people can live near a network of motorways and pass their test without ever having been on one, “ he said .
“Toughening the rules on driving instructors is also to be welcomed. At the moment it is possible to be taught by a trainee, without knowing that when you booked the lesson - but you still have to pay the same price.”
The Institute of Advanced Motorists also endorsed the decision to allow driving lessons to take place on a motorway.
“It will mean that properly supervised young drivers can learn how to drive on a motorway with somebody beside them,” a spokesman said.
“These roads are, after all, our safest roads.”