Speeding Awareness Course
We all hear of people attending on speed awareness courses and generally consider it an annoying inconvenience. Nevertheless, we attend upon them so as not to attract penalty points. But are these courses actually useful? And will they help improve our driving? We examine the realities.
Who is eligible?
A driver who is detected driving at the speed identified as suitable (and who has not previously attended a similar course within a 3 year period), will be offered a course as an alternative to paying a Fixed Penalty and receiving penalty points on their driving licence. The threshold is set by your police force area, however, as a guide when driving in a 30 mph zone a driver would be eligible for a course at a speed of up to and including 42 mph, in a 50 mph zone up to 64 mph and in a 70 mph zone up to 86 mph.
Speeding Awareness Course
The course fee payable is currently £79.50 in Greater Manchester but varies throughout the country and it is a 4 hour course. The course is not delivered by the police contrary to public opinion, but by specialist Department for Transport Approved Driving Instructors. The course is a combination of listening to information and group discussion.
Is there a test?
There is no test. The course is theory only with no driving involved. However, you are required to ‘complete the workshop in a satisfactory way’. This means you must make a positive contribution to the workshop by participating fully and displaying a positive attitude to road safety. After attending and successfully completing the course, no further action will be taken in relation to this particular incident. The fact you have completed the course is recorded and held on a national database. If the driver is involved in another speeding offence falling under the same criteria within 3 years of the original offence, a second course will not be offered in lieu of proceedings. There are however different courses available and, for example, participation in a speed awareness course does not preclude you from completing a red traffic light offence course.
Benefits of taking the speeding awareness course
The course providers indicate that the following topics are dealt with on the course:
- The benefits of complying with speed limits
- Attitudes surrounding misuse of speed
- The consequences of speeding
- Knowledge and skills
- Personal responsibility
- What difference does your driving speed make?
- Impact of your behaviour on other road users
I attended on my course initially with a certain sense of trepidation. I had had to take annual leave from work in order to attend and would have rather been in a multitude of different places. Furthermore I anticipated the environment being akin to that of a school environment and perhaps extremely arrogantly I thought as a motoring solicitor I knew enough about the law.
However whilst having a cup of coffee and waiting for the course to begin, I began reflecting on the matter. I then realised that it had been over 15 years since I had taken my driving test and the preceding driver theory test. In reality I had probably revisited the knowledge accrued so long ago on a very limited basis. Yes, I regularly read the Highway Code for work purposes, but generally looking for something specific as opposed to anything on a personal level.
The course was a real eye opener particularly in relation to the consequences of speeding. The statistics given were hard hitting and moving. The information provided was accurate and useful. The instructors giving the course were extremely knowledgeable and managed to employ enough humour to keep everyone’s attention. And it readily became apparent how easy it is to become distracted by some many different variables. As the course progressed I began to appreciate the enormous responsibility that a driver has to other road users and pedestrians, something which has stayed with me ever since.
On reflection, the course was most definitely worth a morning out of my busy life. I left the course with a thorough grounding on the consequences of speeding on others and a feeling that wherever I had to rush to was simply not worth speeding and would just have to wait for me arrive at an appropriate speed and most definitely within the speed limit.
Impact on insurance premiums
However, whilst attending on the course is certainly attractive in terms of not attracting penalty points, this does not mean that it will not cause an increase in insurance premiums. Most insurers ask whether an individual has attended a speed awareness course (or similar) as part of their quotation process and it almost certainly leads to an increase in the quotation.
Admiral is one insurer that openly admits it may still increase premiums. An Admiral spokesman said:
“We pride ourselves on very accurately pricing the risk of every driver. Going on a speed awareness course, in our view, doesn’t alter the fact that you were caught speeding. We are perfectly entitled to price this into the risk.”