More drivers than ever taking speed awareness courses

speed awareness courses
Get nicked by one of these and you could end up on a speed awareness course (Picture iStock/BrianAJackson)

More drivers are being sent on speed awareness courses after breaking the law than ever before. The courses enable drivers to avoid points, fines and potentially expensive increases in insurance premiums.

Drivers attended the courses virtually during the pandemic with 1.5 million licence holders doing so in 2021. It was the greatest number since records began for the courses. Most of the drivers attending courses had been nicked for speeding.

What are retraining courses?

The National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) is operated by the police with a view to changing drivers’ behaviour. The idea is that drivers who are caught breaking the law are offered the chance to take a retraining course rather than having a fine and points endorsement on their licence.

Drivers who are caught breaking the law are only offered the courses if their law breaking is judged to be down to a lapse of concentration or poor judgement. Courses are usually only offered to drivers who were within 10 per cent of the speed limit. Drivers aren’t allowed to take more than one course every three years.

What are the courses for?

The most popular course is the National Speed Awareness Course. Four out of five drivers (86 per cent) take retraining courses because they’ve been caught driving too quickly. The courses are designed to help drivers to understand why speeding is dangerous and what the possible consequences are.

Other courses include Safe and Considerate Driving for drivers who’ve been seen driving without due care and attention, and What’s Driving Us? aimed at drivers who’ve committed traffic light offences, stopping offences such as dangerously outside school gates, and tailgating.

There are courses for motorbike riders too and even ones for bicycle riders who’ve been stopped by police for cycling through red lights.

speed awareness courses
Going back to the classroom could save you money on insurance going forwards (iStock/PeopleImages)

Do the courses cost money?

Drivers might think they’ve dodged a minimum £100 fine by taking the course option but they still have to pay for the courses. The cost varies depending on where the courses are. Currently speed awareness courses cost around £90. But others might be more expensive if they include an on-road component.

Do the training courses work?

Using data from 2.2 million drivers, a 2018 report showed that the likelihood of drivers who’d been on the courses reoffending within six months was reduced by nearly a quarter (23 per cent).

The same report showed that over three years, taking part in a retraining course was more effective at reducing speed reoffending than a fine and penalty points.

Do drivers like them?

It would appear so. Attending a driver training course is not a conviction and shouldn’t be treated like one, unlike a fixed penalty. So rather than having to ’fess up to points on their licence when renewing motor insurance, drivers don’t have to mention that they’ve been on a course and insurers don’t have access to course attendance details.

In addition, during the pandemic, courses were no longer held in classrooms. It’s meant that drivers could go on the courses virtually without leaving home. There have even been stories about drivers participating in the courses while on holiday abroad.

39 comments on “More drivers than ever taking speed awareness courses

  1. john William strawbridge 30/08/2022 3:30 PM

    I went on a driving awareness course6 years ago and then set mmy computer to make a noise if I exceed 30mph. Most successful thing I have ever done to improve my driving ,even better than being a member of the I A M from 1980

  2. Dave 30/08/2022 5:37 PM

    First time speeding at age 68, 34mph at 0430 am. Not happy about it, but the speed awareness course was interesting. I did learn things too, drive in 3rd gear in 30 mph zones it’s hard to go over 30, who knew?

  3. Eddie Cochran 30/08/2022 10:12 PM

    Having done a ‘SAC’ I have to say the concensus from every ‘offender’ on my Course was that it was a waste of time and just an easy way of getting yet more money out of motorists; most of these drivers were indeed caught for ‘speeding’ but by a piddling few miles an hour – hardly fair when serious crime rates are so so high and such sentences are so proportionately ‘friendly’.
    There was even a ‘debate’ with the Instructor as to what the “average speed limit” sign on a motorway means. It seems obvious to most that one can drive above say 50mph provided one also drives below 50mph SO that their ‘average’ speed is NOT more than the 50mph ‘average speed’ demanded BUT the Instructor insisted 50mph was the max speed allowed and could NOT explain what ‘average speed’ meant!!!!

  4. Rob Hatcliff 30/08/2022 11:19 PM

    I’ve been caught speeding twice in the past three years. On both occasions I’ve thought it was a 40mph limit when in fact it was 30. I’ve attended a course and I still can’t tell the difference unless the speed limit is clearly displayed at regular intervals.

  5. John Holiday 31/08/2022 8:21 AM

    More drivers need to attend & improve their hazard awareness.

  6. Carl 31/08/2022 8:40 AM

    Yes, my reply is don’t take your eyes off your speedometer it only takes a second and your foot relaxes and your speed is over the required limit, be aware take care, I know I’ve been there.

  7. john graver 31/08/2022 8:48 AM

    the word is not speeding. you broke an enforced speed limit. Most properly fixed by some committee of non drivers.

    • Pete I 02/09/2022 10:40 AM

      Pathetic reply. Typical weasel words. Do you think the toddler who gets run over by somebody SPEEDING cares what it’s called? Grow up.

      • Paul Jackson 03/09/2022 1:11 PM

        I agree with you Pete.

  8. Tom 31/08/2022 9:34 AM

    £1.5 million at £90,per by the police where does the money go???£14 millions wow

  9. D. Robertson 31/08/2022 10:00 AM

    On my course in north Hampshire several years ago I asked how often the cameras were calibrated, the answer ‘once a year ‘ . Say no more !

  10. David 31/08/2022 10:05 AM

    Hardly surprising that so many have been nicked. Having been caught on a 40-30mph border which occurs on a dip in the road and a bend doing 36mph by a camera placed a yard inside the 30 mph zone whilst reducing speed, is insidious. Deliberately placed there to catch drivers. Nothing to do with safety. Disgrace and has meant that I have lost all respect for the Police, specifically Leicestershire police.

  11. MR DAVID GREEN 31/08/2022 11:31 AM

    Cameras are nearly all just a cash cow ,lack of warning signs proves this .

  12. Barry Oakley 31/08/2022 11:37 AM

    The cynic in me says the increase is a money-making exercise for police forces. Police officers should more often exercise the law in marginal speeding instances in terms of the “spiriit of the law” instead of the “letter of the law.” The police would then earn far more respect from sensible motorists than they seem to do at present.

    • Robert Kitching 31/08/2022 12:01 PM

      I agree. For me, speeding is not a problem, it is bad judgement that causes the problem. Speeding in the wrong situation (built-up areas, narrow roads etc.) is caused by bad judgement. Speeding on an empty motorway, and using good judgement as to speed is not a problem. Unfortunately, the police need speed cameras to save them from having to make a decision about good or bad judgement.

      • Plume Roy 31/08/2022 6:16 PM

        Agree 100% motorists are a money making machine

      • Pete I 02/09/2022 10:42 AM

        Completely wrong. Speed cameras are required because so many people think the law doesn’t apply to them and break it by speeding. There are too many people on the roads these days who are, quite frankly, unfit to drive.

        • george 02/09/2022 12:47 PM

          totally agree Pete plus I would add that Speed restriction signs are maximum speeds why do we have a”Highway Code” Very few drivers abide by the code do they know how to
          use “Iindicators “for example, not in my experience they don’t.
          I think the standard of driving in this country is pathetic.
          If drivers flout the rules they should not be allowed to drive.

        • Paul Jackson 03/09/2022 1:13 PM

          I agree again. Sounds like you have recently done the course.

    • Nige 31/08/2022 9:56 PM

      Completely agree. I’ve witnessed police with hand held cameras operating in an area where it’s easy to ‘catch’ people travelling marginally over the speed limit whereas just half a mile up the road the real speeding takes place, but it’s easier to spot the police at that location. I can’t help thinking that it’s all about getting as much money as possible

  13. David Dawe 31/08/2022 11:55 AM

    They attend a course purely to avoid an endorsement, some speed limits are ridiculous. I have followed many police cars exceeding the speed limit in towns and side roads. If you are already good at hazard perception it suggests the course is a waste of time. Why do the camera vans not operate on motorways where speeding is more likely to cause a problem. Having a van stuck outside a school on a Saturday checking over 20 mph is a waste of resources, no wait, it’s putting money in the pot!!!

  14. Ben Jones 31/08/2022 2:53 PM

    You John Graver are a very scary driver. And alas you are not the only one. No doubt you think you should use your ‘judgement’ about staying in yellow boxes at junctions/roundabouts, jumping red lights or that you have the skill to overtake on the inside or the right to drive in the middle lane or the expert ability to drive safely bumper to bumper at 75mph+ in the outside lane of a motorway, or just drift off a slip road and expect everybody to get out of your way.

    There are some rules about how to behave on the road and it would be safer for all of us if we drove with more courtesy with a lot less ‘F*** you’ or this ridiculous ‘I shall make up my own rules’ attitude.

    Road safety is not a deep state conspiracy.

  15. Derek Maule 31/08/2022 3:29 PM

    In My opinion car owners who drive at excessive speeds ie: Young men accelerating quickly and cutting up others just to get ahead should be prosecuted. A fine hits them where it hurts, and a conviction too, they think its clever and and it can cause road rage. Police speed vans should be hidden to catch these idiots. Yes i too was young but never drove recklessly and i never will. NB i do not have any driving convictions.

  16. David Trangmar 31/08/2022 5:39 PM

    Of course it seems to beat getting a prosecution and potentially getting ripped off by your insurance company. But … I found the process and the course patronising and holyier than thou if you know what I mean, as though the people you speak to and the course deliverer have never put a foot wrong, which of course they inevitably have. I say inevitably because nobody I know sets out to break the law, but we are all human and we will all do it sooner or later. I wont take another course. If I’ve done wrong. I will take the consequences and not take *** from someone who thinks he hasn’t. Sorry. D

  17. Eva Smith 31/08/2022 5:59 PM

    I totally disagree with the last two comments. Breaking the speed limit is against the law, and it would be perfectly justifiable to issue fines and points on licenses, but this would do nothing to improve road safety. Instead, we are shown what could be the consequences of even a small breach, taught how to be more aware of the environment of the road, and how to look ahead more effectively. I passed my driving test 57 years ago, and recently broke the law in this way for the first time ever. LIke everyone who does this I could offer an excuse – I was late for a meeting – but that’s no reason. I was mortified, having never had any problems in all my many driving years, but I enjoyed the online course, learned a lot, was reminded of things I used to know but had let slip, and felt altogether more confident about driving safely. My 40 year old son also did one a few months earlier, and had the same feelings as me. The commenters talking about good judgement are probably also the same ones who regard themselves as above average drivers! We can’t all be above average. It’s never too late to learn, and when the safety of others as well as oneself is concerned it’s just common sense to sit up and take notice. I actually think it would be a good idea for all drivers to have to do such a course every few years. If it saved just a few lives it would be worth while.

  18. S gledhill 31/08/2022 8:40 PM

    I agree with the above no respect for police,used to do recovery for police. I got a call from them at 2.30 am in the morning to recover a stolen car that was blocking a main road,the last thing they said was hurry up.5mins after setting off I was nicked for speeding,after explaining where I was going the said yes we heard the call on radio,they still gave me a ticket,after that I refused to work with the police again ,in my opinion the should have used there better judgement

  19. Peter 01/09/2022 11:44 AM

    I am 71 years old and have never had any promlems at all in all the time. I have always abayed The law and always try to keep at speed limits.

  20. Peter 01/09/2022 11:48 AM

    If you are caught for speeding them that is your fault……

  21. G pratchett 01/09/2022 12:11 PM

    I agree with Robert 70 mph in a modern car on a normal motorway is not right I was allowed to do that in my old beat up ford anglia in the sixties

  22. Kelvin Brown 01/09/2022 5:44 PM

    Don’t speed. Don’t winge if you do. No one to blame but you.

  23. J Bagley 01/09/2022 6:44 PM

    The problem with speed fines is that they do not punish dangerous driving. A speed limit is set for average conditions. If the road is icy, then the limit should be lower than 30mph. On a fine morning with nobody about, the limit is too low. If the police could take conditions into deciding on a fine, I would feel happier about it. But they simply seem to hammer drivers even if no danger is caused to third parties.

  24. Ben Jones 03/09/2022 12:13 PM

    Speed limits are there to help protect road users from these appallingly arrogant incompetent people who think they have superior judgement and that the law and the rules of the road do not apply to them.

    The massive number of people who speed round town, drive bumper to bumper at 75+ on crowded motorways, block yellow box junctions, jump red lights, over take on the inside etc etc show they do not have good judgement or even basic driving driving skills.

  25. Gerald 04/09/2022 4:47 PM

    Money making exercise, police should use their discretion.
    It’s obvious giving people an option of not to take points will encourage them to go on the courses, but why do they have to cost more than they take to run “MONEY”.

  26. Andrew John Bailey 05/09/2022 11:43 AM

    The fact is a license to drive is a privilege, not a right. Any driver in charge of a motor vehicle of any size and not driving within the mandatory maximum speed limit of any given area, be it outside a school, on a twisty country lane with blind bends, or (heaven forbid) on a smart motorway, and who does not comprehend the effect of kinetic energy of a moving vehicle needs to study the science. it is a wake-up call, I promise you.

  27. John Bristow 05/09/2022 12:57 PM

    Speed limits are there for a reason, often due to accident records. The attitude “I only break the speed limit when I know it is safe is simply ignoring the science/engineering behind the limit. I would however say that the spacing of speed restriction signs sometimes seems excessive leading the motorist to temporarily forget the restriction. I worked for a Highway Authority!

  28. lance 06/09/2022 3:00 PM

    I agree with the last comment, I am consistently being overtaken by vehicles when I am doing the correct speed limit whether this is on the motorway or other roads. I try to stay in the inside lane on motorways unless I see heavy vehicles ahead of me however, I find myself often compromised by drivers who stay consistently in the middle lane?

  29. David 09/09/2022 9:31 AM

    I attended a speed awareness course a few years ago . I found it very educational and useful. It improved my observation skills . If it had been available, I probably would have paid to go on a similar scheme voluntarily.

  30. Paul Croft 12/09/2022 11:14 PM

    I attended a speed awareness for the first time of speeding six years ago at the age of 64. I joined a dual carriageway from a slip road at 11.00 at night with no sign showing the speed limit at 40mph because it was a lit up residential area. I accelerated to 50mph to join the road in front of a vehicle already on the main carriageway. About 50 metres a camera flashed and I found I was caught for speeding 50mph in what was a 40mph. I had no idea or warning it was a reduced speed limit and felt hard done to. The speed awareness course taught me that in lit up areas/residential they are restricted speed limits. Think many would have been caught on the same slip road!!!!

  31. Stephen 22/09/2022 4:27 PM

    What most of you seem to ignore is you were caught speeding. There is only one cause: You. Specifically, ‘I was caught doing 40 in a 30 limit because I didn’t know what the limit was’: solution: drive to the lower limit then until you are sure!

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