The RAC Foundation has called for motorways to be made ‘welcoming and safe’ for drivers who rarely use them after Department for Transport (DfT) data showed that many people cannot access the network easily.
Steve Gooding, director of the motoring research charity, said: ‘While one in five miles driven by car takes place on a motorway, for many motorists these roads remain a mystery.
The M5 motorway
‘The challenge is to make motorways as welcoming and safe as possible, so those people who only use them once in a blue moon feel comfortable doing so.’
An analysis of DfT data by the Press Association revealed that 89 local authority areas are not covered by the motorway network.
Last month the DfT announced plans to allow learners to drive on motorways from next year as long as they are with an approved driving instructor in a dual control car.
Edmund King, president of the AA, said: ‘One of the features this new research reveals is the wisdom in making the proposed motorway element of driver training voluntary.
‘With nearly 30% of the population without a motorway in their area, making it compulsory would make it difficult for learners in the Highlands, the West Country and other rural areas to pass their test.
‘If they move to another part of the country where they need to go on a motorway, the opportunity to get a familiarisation course is still available to them.’
A spokesman for Highways England, which runs the country’s motorway network, said: ‘Over the past 18 months we have delivered a number of campaigns to help drivers travel confidently and safely on our motorways.
‘Our traffic officers and information line are also available to help drivers 24/7.’