Speed awareness course -What you need to know?

By: Lisa Harper

What is a speed awareness course?

A speed awareness course is designed to educate drivers about the increased risk posed when speeding. It is offered by some regional police forces as an alternative to penalty points and a fine and allows them to divert low-end speeding motorists to re-education. The hope being that this prevents further incidents of speeding. 

The speed awareness course is run by the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) and is not a compulsory option. It is down to the regional police force to decide whether to offer it and to the speeding driver to accept it. 

Who is eligible for a speed awareness course?        

Only minor speeding offences are eligible for speed awareness, typically between the speed limit +10% + 2mph and the speed limit + 10% + 9mph (see Table 1 for full breakdown). 

In addition:

-    No more than 12 weeks must have elapsed since the date of the alleged offence

-    No further offences must have committed at the time of the alleged offence

-    You must not have attended a speed awareness course within three years prior to the current offence       

Table 1 – Affect the speed travelling has on possible outcomes                  

Speed Limit

Device tolerance

Speed Awareness if appropriate

From              To

Summons in all other cases and above

20mph

22mph  

24mph  - 31mph                

35mph

30mph

32mph

35mph  -  42mph                

50mph

40mph

42mph

46mph  -  53mph                

66mph

50mph

52mph

57mph   - 64mph                

76mph

60mph

62mph

68mph   - 75mph                

86mph

70mph

73mph

79mph   - 86mph                

96mph

How will you know if you're eligible for a speed awareness course?

If you are stopped by the police for speeding or are caught by a speeding camera, you will be sent a notice of prosecution within fourteen days of the offence. This must be completed and returned within the given time. 

After which if you have admitted to being the driver at the time of the alleged offence, you will be sent a further document with the options available to you listed. This may include a speed awareness course if you fulfil the above criteria, a fixed penalty notice if education is not appropriate, or a summons.

If you are offered a speed awareness course, you will usually be given a date, time and location to attend.

You should be aware that rules do vary between different police forces, so if you are unsure about any of the documentation you have received, you should contact your regional police department to find out more. 

Do you have to attend a speed awareness course?

No, attending a speed awareness course is not compulsory. You can decline the offer to take the speed awareness course and instead pay the listed fixed penalty notice and accept the points on your licence. 

Do you have to pay to attend a speed awareness course?

Yes. The cost of the course varies across the country but is typically £80 to £100. You may also wish to bear in mind that the course usually lasts around half a day. If you work you may also have to take unpaid leave or use a day’s annual leave to attend the course and this may have an added financial impact.

How long does a speed awareness course take?

Courses do vary, although in most cases it is usually four to five hours long.  

Topics covered on a speed awareness course

The purpose of speed awareness is to try and educate drivers about the increased risk to themselves and other road users when speeding. So common topics include:

- benefits of complying with speed limits

- attitudes surrounding speeding

- consequences of speeding

- knowledge and skills

- personal responsibility

- impact on other road users

What happens on a speed awareness course?

On the day you can expect to take part in a series of workshops, but there is no pass or fail at the end of the day. You may be asked to take part in a quiz, but the results have no bearing on your day, it is more a bit of fun to see what you have actually learnt. 

The course is run by advanced driver instructors and no police are actually present on the day. However, there are fairly strict rules and procedures in place. 

For instance, if you are over ten minutes late, you may be asked to leave the course and be referred back to the police. Similarly, anyone caught on their phone or causing continued disruptions may be asked to leave.

Does going on a speed awareness course affect car insurance?

A speed awareness course is not classed as a driving conviction, as you avoid taking any penalty points and your licence remains clean, therefore should not impact your insurance.

However, some insurers may raise your premiums on the basis that you do pose an increased speeding risk. 

Do speed awareness courses work?

A government study found that people who attended the course were 23% less likely to re-offend within six months, and only 21% of those will go on to re-offend in the following three years. 

While the TTC, a large provider of speed awareness courses, states that 99% of people who attend their course go away with a more positive attitude to driving within the speed limit and safe driving in general.

                              

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