They must be on a lesson with an approved instructor and the car must also have dual controls.
However, a motorway section is not being added to the test and it is not a mandatory part of lessons – it is up to the instructor to decide whether the pupil is ready.
Novices were previously only allowed on motorways after passing their test.
More than a quarter (27%) of drivers said they were scared when they first ventured onto motorways, according to an AA survey of 20,000 motorists, but it is hoped the change will give new drivers confidence and improve safety.
Road safety minister Jesse Norman said: “Britain’s roads are among the safest in the world, but road collisions remain the second biggest killer of young people.
“Allowing learner drivers to have motorway lessons with a qualified road safety expert will help more young drivers to gain the skills and experience they need to drive safely on motorways.”
The AA and the RAC have both welcomed the change.
“Young drivers are drastically over-represented in crashes. This change, which will help broaden the opportunities they have while learning, is very positive,” said Edmund King, director of the AA Charitable Trust.
“It is somewhat perverse that five minutes after passing the driving test a new driver could venture alone on to a motorway without having had any motorway tuition.”
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Brake, the road safety charity, says a licensing system imposing restrictions on drivers for a certain time after passing their test – such as a night driving curfew – would further improve safety and should be brought in by the government.
“While today’s move is a small step in the right direction, a total overhaul in the way in which we learn to drive is urgently needed,” said its director of campaigns, Joshua Harris.