What Happens on a Speed Awareness Course?
So you got caught speeding. Ay caramba! Whether you were doing a mile or two over the limit or exceeding it by a considerable amount, over 6,000 motorists in the UK are caught speeding every day. And while safe driving should always be adhered to, going over the speed limit occasionally isn't unheard of – especially when the UK has over 7,000 speed cameras.
If you're going considerably over the limit, for shame – you should drive more responsibly, and it's likely you'll receive a hefty fine and possibly even a driving ban. If, however, you don't go too far over the limit, there's every chance you can avoid points on your driver’s licence with a speed awareness course.
Compared to getting penalty points, it’s much better to attend a speed awareness course instead. And don't forget that having points on your licence will negatively affect your insurance costs! But what actually happens on a speed awareness course? Read on to find out.
What is a Speed Awareness Course?
When you’re caught speeding, you might not be apprehended right then and there but you will eventually receive a letter about your offence. In some circumstances, the driver will be given three options. You may pay the fine and take penalty points, you may choose to go to court and defend the offence, or you may take a speed awareness course where you won't pay a fine but will have to pay for the course itself. This option is entirely up to the police if they decide to offer it to you.
So if you’ve been repeatedly caught speeding, don’t expect that you’ll be offered to take the speed awareness course again and again. If it’s the first time that you went over the speed limit, it’s possible that you’ll be eligible to take the course (depending on your speed), but this can only be offered if you haven't attended a course in the past three years.
There’s only a particular speed range that would make you eligible for the course, which is 10 per cent of the speed limit plus 2mph, or up to 10 per cent of the speed limit plus 9mph. For example, in a 40mph speed limit, you’re only qualified to take the speed awareness course if you were speeding somewhere between 46mph to 53mph.
How Many Times Can You Take the Course?
Not all drivers who have been caught speeding will be given the chance to attend the course instead of getting penalty points. It’s the prerogative of the police officer to offer it and there’s only a certain speed range that would allow you to be eligible to take the course.
As for how many times you can take a speed awareness course, you can only attend one time every three years. If you’re ever caught speeding again within that time frame, you will get penalty points on your driver’s licence and you need to pay a fine.
What to Expect on a Speed Awareness Course
If you're asking questions like "what is a speed awareness course like?", or "how long will the course take?" then we've got all the juicy details. There are several organisations that will handle the course so the cost of taking the course may vary. However, a good amount to prepare for would be £100 which might be available in an instalment arrangement. If you compare it with the fine you’d have to pay for speeding, it’s roughly the same but by taking the course, you won’t get any penalty points.
With a speed awareness course, you don’t have to worry about taking and passing an exam at the end. However, you need to be fully participative during sessions and actively engage in group discussions - so don't think you can watch YouTube on your phone instead! 😑 The point of the sessions is for drivers to learn more about driving responsibly, and why it's so important that they do. It may include information about speed limits on different roads, greater awareness of one’s surroundings while driving, potential hazardous situations, appropriate stopping distances, and consequences of exceeding speed limits, among others.
During your first session, bring a photo ID with you. It would also be best to arrive at the venue at least 15 minutes before the scheduled time. Keep in mind that you have to attend all sessions and fully complete the course so the organisation can then notify the police about it, and then you don’t have to worry about penalties and other further actions.
The course usually requires drivers to attend for the full four hours to complete the session. Of course, there will be a break in between. Sessions are available any day of the week, even on weekends and during evenings. So your work schedule doesn’t necessarily have to be interrupted so that you can attend the session.
Can the Course be Taken Online?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, speed awareness courses became available online. To participate, you need to join a video call. Even after lockdowns have been lifted, the course is still available online.
What is an online speed awareness course like?
The session is usually around two-and-half-hours long with a 10-minute break. It's essentially the same as an in-person course, only the learning take place online. Like the in-person course, it teaches offenders things like:
- How to identify speed limits
- The dangers of speeding
- The benefits of following the speed limit
- The impact of their behaviour on other road users
- How to avoid speeding again.
Course may take place on Zoom or other video conferencing software. However, it is expected that sessions will go back to in-person meetings only eventually.
If you’ve already received the letter from the police which is a Notice of Intended Prosecution, you need to accept the offer to take a speed awareness course by returning the form within a given period which is stated on the notice. The letter will also have information about the organisation that will provide the course and instructions on how you can book online. The next steps will be available through email from the organisation.
You don’t have to worry about failing a speed awareness course, however, you need to be an active participant during sessions. If you quit before the session is complete, then you might be given penalty points or even be summoned to court. And of course, you won’t be refunded the cost either! Of course it's better not to speed in the first place - and avoid all of the above. And if you want to keep up to date, check out our blog on the UK Speeding Regulations Update 2023.