Speeding violations can result in fines, penalty points on a driving licence, increased insurance premiums, and in extreme scenarios, the loss of your licence. However, drivers who exceed the speed limit may have an alternative option available to them: the speed awareness course. Given the recent prominence of speed awareness courses in the news, we aim to shed light on these courses, when it is an option, and the pros and cons associated with choosing one over receiving penalty points.
What is a speed awareness course and when is it available?
A speed awareness course is an educational program designed to raise awareness about the dangers of excessive speed and promote responsible driving behaviour. The course is typically offered as an alternative to receiving penalty points on a driving licence for minor speeding offences. Eligibility for a speed awareness course is at the discretion of the police and may vary depending on the severity of the offence and local policies.
Eligibility criteria usually require that the driver’s speed falls within a certain range, and the offence must not involve other serious violations. Additionally, drivers must not have attended a speed awareness course within the past three years.
What happens on a speed awareness course?
Speed awareness courses are generally conducted by independent organisations or local authorities and are delivered in a classroom or online setting. The courses are designed to be informative, interactive, and engaging. They normally cover topics such as the risks associated with speeding, the consequences for road users and communities, and strategies to promote safer driving habits.
Trained instructors facilitate discussions, presentations, and group activities to encourage participants to reflect on their driving habits and attitudes. Participants may also be shown videos, engage in case studies, and discuss real-life scenarios. The courses aim to provide drivers with the knowledge and skills to make better choices on the road and reduce the likelihood of future speeding offences.
What happens if you do not take or cannot take the course?
If a driver chooses not to take the speed awareness course or does not meet the eligibility criteria, the typical consequence for a speeding offence is the issuance of penalty points on their driving licence and a fine. The number of points varies depending on the severity of the offence, but it usually ranges from 3 to 6 points. Accumulating a certain number of points within a specified period can lead to further penalties, such as licence suspension or revocation. Additionally, the minimum speeding penalty fine is £100.
Failing to complete the speed awareness course when it is offered as an alternative may also result in the driver facing the full consequences of their offence, including the fines, points, and potential increases in insurance premiums all mentioned above.
The pros and cons – reasons to take a course:
- No penalty points: A significant advantage of attending a course is that it allows drivers to avoid receiving penalty points on their licence. This is particularly beneficial for individuals concerned about accumulating points or facing the potential consequences of having points on their licence.
- Educational value: Speed awareness courses do provide valuable information and insights into the dangers of speeding. Attending participants can enhance their understanding of road safety, potential hazards, and the importance of responsible driving.
- Insurance benefits: Some insurance providers may consider drivers who have attended a speed awareness course as less of a risk, potentially resulting in lower insurance premiums compared to those who receive penalty points.
Reason not to take a course:
- Course cost: The courses are not free, and participants are required to pay a fee to attend. The cost varies depending on the organisation delivering the course, but it is generally comparable to the amount of the original fixed penalty notice.
- Time commitment: Depending on the course format, attending could mean a few hours or an entire day spent away from work or other commitments.
- Limited availability: Not all drivers are eligible for a speed awareness course, as it is offered at the discretion of the police. This means that even if a driver desires to take the course, they may not have the opportunity to do so.
Speed awareness courses offer drivers an alternative to receiving penalty points for minor speeding offences. While the courses have certain advantages, such as avoiding penalty points and enhancing road safety knowledge, they come with associated costs and time commitments. Ultimately, the decision to take a speed awareness course or opt for penalty points rests with the individual driver, taking into consideration their specific circumstances and priorities.