When am I eligible to be offered a speed awareness course?
Hundreds of thousands of drivers across the UK have taken speed awareness courses since they were introduced in 2004.
The courses have proved popular with speeding motorists who are offered the chance to complete a workshop to help them understand the consequences of speeding rather than be issued with three penalty points on their licence and £100 fine.
The courses last four hours and cover areas such as facts about speeding, causes and consequences, hazard perception and strategies to help people to drive safely within the speed limit. There is no test to be taken on the course, but drivers must fully participate to complete the course.
They are popular because they cost drivers £100 – as much as the fine they would have received otherwise – and drivers who attend can avoid the three points on their licence.
Who qualifies for the course?
But not all speeding drivers will qualify for a course.
According to Essex Police, these courses are usually offered to drivers that have exceeded the legal limit but not by a huge amount.
But, just what are the selection criteria that the police work to?
While the criteria can vary slightly from force to force, there are some general guideless that appear to apply nationally.
Drivers must take the course within 12 weeks of their offence and can only qualify for attendance if they have not attended a speed awareness course within the three years prior to the current offence.
As for the speeds at which drivers qualify for a course: a Freedom of Information Request to Essex Police a few years back found that they operate on the basis that drivers who have exceeded speed limits by less than 10% +5mph can be offered the workshop in place of a fine. This correlates with the stance taken by most other forces.
These figures would suggest that drivers travelling up to 27mph in 20pmh zone; up to 38 in 30mph zone; up to 49 in 40mph zone and up to 60 in a 50 mph zone may be offered a speed awareness course although there is no information available as to up to what speed this criteria applies.
Interestingly, while these courses were introduced to reinforce messages about the dangers of speeding in a structured way and save drivers who have skirted beyond the speed limit from prosecution, there is evidence that some insurers don’t quite see it that way. The BBC, for example, reported that insurer Admiral may in some cases increase the premiums of those who have attended the workshop.
The only way then to avoid these workshops or the risk of increased premiums is to take is easy on the road and stay within the speed limits when behind the wheel.