Postcode lottery over cost of driver awareness courses

We reveal fees for driver alertness and speed awareness courses vary by up to £100 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Police on motorway

Speed and driver awareness courses differ in price by as much as £100 across the nation’s police forces, an Auto Express investigation has revealed.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, some motorists caught by the police can opt for a course as a substitute for penalty points and a fine. 

Figures reveal penalty points are a postcode lottery

However, our survey revealed there’s no flat rate for how much you’ll pay – and where you’re caught can determine how much it’ll cost.

We reported previously how police forces offer a range of different courses – some up to seven – and now we’ve found out the wide range of fees charged, too. For instance, a driver caught in Dorset for driving without due attention can opt to take a £200 national driver alertness course as an alternative to a court hearing. 

Penalty points, police, speeding

Yet a careless driver caught in Essex would pay only £100 for the same single-day course. Auto Express calculated that the average driver alertness course fee was £154.

Last year, more than 1.3 million motorists opted for a course instead of the fine and penalty points – an increase of a million from only five years ago. 

A third of drivers with 12 points avoid a driving ban

While Essex offers the cheapest driver alertness course, its speed awareness, What’s Driving Us and Driving4Change sessions are actually the highest priced. 

distracted driver

An Essex Police spokesman told Auto Express: “We decided to standardise the pricing structure of the courses to encourage more people to take them up. Each course costs £100, which is the equivalent of the fixed penalty notice amount.”

• UK smoking ban: smoking in cars with kids now illegal

While the fees remain something of a postcode lottery, police forces do allow drivers to attend the course in another force area if requested.

How costs compare

Priciest driver alertness courses

Dorset: £200 Suffolk: £185 Warwickshire: £180 Sussex: £175 

Cheapest driver alertness courses

Essex: £100 South Yorkshire: £120 Lancashire: £120 Avon and Somerset: £124North West Wales: £124 

Priciest speed awareness courses

Essex: £100 Humberside: £95Nottinghamshire: £92.50 

Cheapest speed awareness courses

Merseyside: £79 Greater Manchester: £79.50 Lancashire: £79.50 Warwickshire: £80 Avon and Somerset: £80

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