What happens on a speed awareness course?
- What is a speed awareness course?
- When would you be offered a speed awareness course?
- What to expect of the speed awareness course
- Speed awareness course FAQs
- How much is the speed awareness course?
- What do you need to take?
- Can you fail a speed awareness course?
- How many times can you take a speed awareness course?
What is a speed awareness course?
In the UK, there are rules all drivers have to comply with, including speed limits. Break these limits and you could be penalised. After all, speed limits are in place to keep drivers safe. If you're caught speeding, you could be offered a speed awareness course instead of getting a fine and penalty points on your licence.
Throughout the country, speed awareness courses are run by independent companies which are regulated by the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS). In 2019, 1,282,698 people attended a speed awareness course. Since 2010, when only 447,724 completed the course, the figures have shot up, according to data from the NDORs.
Of course, there are more motorists on the roads, most of whom will consider themselves sensible drivers. But some people do have a complete disregard for the speed limits. With an increase in speed cameras and mobile police checks, many drivers are caught driving above the speed limit.
Many of these choose to take a speed awareness course instead of getting a fine and penalty points. The half-day session is basically a theoretical driving lesson which educates drivers about their speeding and the dangers of speeding. It's designed to stop them becoming a repeat offender.
When would you be offered a speed awareness course?
After being caught speeding, whether by a speed camera or if you've been stopped by the police, you'll be sent a Notice of Intended Prosecution and a Section 172 Notice - usually within 14 days. It'll inform you what's happened and the consequences.
You're required to return the Section 172 Notice to let them know who was driving the car. Then, typically, you'll be given three choices:
- Pay the fine and take the points on your licence
- Take a speed awareness course
- Go to court to settle it
However, not everyone will have the option to take the speed awareness course. You only qualify if the following applies:
- The police have offered it to you
- It's your first speeding offence or your first in the past three years
- You didn't commit any further offences at the time of the speeding offence
- It's within the speed limits allowed for the course - between 10% of the limit plus 2mph and 10% plus 9mph
The table below shows what these limits would be for different speed limits. But do take these as a rough guideline only.
|Speed limit (mph)||Speeds you'd likely be offered a speed awareness course (mph)|
|30||Between 35 and 42|
|40||Between 46 and 53|
|50||Between 57 and 64|
|60||Between 68 and 75|
|70||Between 79 and 86|
If you were caught speeding excessively, you wouldn't be offered the choice of a speed awareness course. You'll have to pay a fine, take three points on your licence or could even receive a court summons if you're speeding way beyond the speed limit. Speeding is a serious offence.
If you're offered a speed awareness test, it's a good idea to take it. It means you don't have to take the penalty points on your licence. Every time you're caught speeding, three points can be added. If you get 12 or more within three years, you could be disqualified from driving. Within the first two years of you passing your driving test, you'd only need to get six points to be disqualified.
Taking the speed awareness course could also save you money on your car insurance. You must let insurance providers know about any speeding convictions, and this could affect your premium. But it's important to be aware some insurance firms will ask you if you've taken a speed awareness course too. They cannot check, as this information is held by local police forces rather than the DVLA, but not disclosing the truth may make your policy invalid.
What to expect of the speed awareness course
The speed awareness course lasts around four to five hours. Courses take place throughout the week, including evenings and weekends.
During the course, you'll be part of a group of drivers (around 15 to 25 attendees) learning together. It's a classroom-based workshop and rather than spending time in a car, it focuses on opening people's eyes to the dangers of speeding.
As such, you'll focus on refreshing your knowledge of the Highway Code and its importance. For example, understanding where different speed limits apply or the stopping distances for how fast you're going.
The course also focuses on defensive driving, which teaches safe driving practices to help drivers avoid dangers. It increases awareness of hazards, obstacles and dangers and how to stay safe despite the actions of other drivers or conditions.
Another thing you do on the speed awareness course is explore the behaviours behind speeding - in fact, you'll have to consider why you sped and share your experiences. Those running the course will want to see you actively engaging in discussions.
Speed awareness course FAQs
Even the most experienced drivers amongst us can make mistakes on the road - whether it's losing attention for a moment or learning bad habits. If you find yourself having to take a speed awareness course, the following details are handy to know:
How much is the speed awareness course?
Courses are run by independent companies, so costs can vary a bit. Usually, a speed awareness course will cost between £80 and £100. A fixed penalty notice for speeding tends to be around £100 along with the points on your licence.
What do you need to take?
On the day, you'll need to bring either:
- A photocard driving licence OR
- A paper driving licence and some photographic ID e.g. your passport
If you don't have your driving licence with you, you might be able to show two forms of ID. But it's best to check with individual centres because rules may vary.
Can you fail a speed awareness course?
There's no exam to take on the day, but you will be judged on how well you've actively participated in discussions. People running the course want to see that you've demonstrated a positive attitude and contributed to any group activities or discussions.
After the course, the provider will get in touch with the police to inform them you've completed it. This information will be stored in the NDORs database.
If you left the course before it had finished or didn't engage throughout the day, you might 'fail'. Then you'd have to take the points or be summoned to court.
How many times can you take a speed awareness course?
The course is designed to teach you why you shouldn't be speeding. You can't keep taking it without changing your behaviour. So, you can only take the course once every three years.