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Speed awareness courses: everything you need to know

The National Speed Awareness Course scheme is an alternative to a speeding ticket - but what's it all about?

Increased speed limits helps to cut accidents

If you get caught speeding these days, you may be offered one of two options. If you're a repeat offender, if you've overstepped the limit by a certain amount or if you're simply unlucky, you'll be given a hefty fine and points on your license. However, first-time offenders or those who are only 1-2mph over the limit may be offered a driver awareness course instead.

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These educational speed awareness courses aren't exactly universally beloved among drivers. Busted motorists tend to consider the cost of an awareness course to be another tax on honest drivers, while plenty of others find them patronising and the information next to useless. Equally, though, many drivers who have completed one of the courses have found themselves surprised by the benefits they've gained from attending. 

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If you choose to attend a speed awareness course, you'll find there are locations spread throughout England and Northern Ireland. Courses tend to last for around four hours, and are paid for by the drivers who enrol. They're run by seperate, non-profit organisations, so prices may vary from region to region, but they tend to be in the region of £100.

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When you’re considering accepting a National Speed Awareness Course offer, remember it’s not a test, and there’s no pass or fail. You simply have to turn up and listen.

How does a Speed Awareness Course work?

If you are offered a chance to accept a speed awareness course instead of a fine, you generally have 14 days to respond to the letter of notification from the relevant police force, and accept or decline the offer. Declining the offer will mean you automatically revert to points and a fixed penalty fine – unless you are ordered to attend court instead.

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Once you’ve accepted the offer, you can go online to book a course at one of the locations and times the course provider offers. You don’t need to return to the location of the offence, and can find a local course provider using the official website.

What is the format of a Speed Awareness Course?

Wherever you go to attend your course, and irrespective of the course provider you choose, the format of the course should be roughly the same. You’ll be sitting informally in a room with – typically - a couple of dozen other offenders, and there’ll be an instructor at the front using visual aids and video to help get the message across in a discussion-based format.

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Speed Awareness Course topics

Wherever you take your course, you’ll be guided through discussion around the following topics – often accompanied by video clips, or other visual aids: 

  • • The benefits of speed limits
  • • Attitudes around speeding
  • • Consequences of speeding
  • • Driver skill and knowledge
  • • Driver responsibility
  • • The difference your speed makes
  • • Impact of speeding on other drivers

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The insurance implications

There is evidence that insurance companies have hiked premiums for drivers who have accepted offers to attend speed awareness courses but, of course, the same happens for drivers who have points on their licences too. You must inform your insurance company if you attend a course – but only if you are asked.

Have you ever been on a Speed Awareness Course? Tell us what you thought of it in the comments section below... 

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