Drivers who get caught speeding can be offered the chance to take a speed awareness course rather than having their licence endorsed with three points and taking a fine. The classes, known as the National Speed Awareness Course (NSAC), are part of the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS).
Speed awareness courses first started running in 2006. But they were only operated at a local level and nationally there was little consistency behind them. The national scheme addressed this and has been in action since 2008. Last year, 1.19 million drivers in the UK attended one of these courses. With the increase in the number of drivers being caught speeding, that’s up by 165 per cent since 2010. Read on to find out more about the NSAC.
What is a speed awareness course?
The theory goes that if you want to prevent someone persistently doing something they shouldn’t, education is better than punishment. Rather than giving drivers a proverbial slap on the wrist without truly explaining that what they did could have catastrophic consequences, speed awareness courses set out to put that right. A National Speed Awareness Course lasts four hours and is classroom based.
What does the course cover?
The NSAC isn’t a pass or fail test. It’s designed to make participants realise how dangerous exceeding the speed limit is. They will be taught that driving too fast may not get them to their destination that much quicker. They’ll learn about the driving environment and hazards that they may not have appreciated. It will challenge their knowledge about driving and expose some of the gaps in their understanding. And the NSAC will help them to identify speed limits and give them easy-to-remember tips, knowledge and skills designed to help improve their driving.
Who is offered speed awareness courses
Not every driver is offered a speed awareness course. They are suggested at the discretion of police forces to those considered to be less serious offenders. That means drivers who are caught by police officers, mobile or fixed speed cameras doing the speed limit plus 10 per cent plus between 2mph and 9mph. Drivers who are caught exceeding the speed limit in 20mph zones have a classroom based three-hour long NSAC 20. This is designed to target the unintentional behaviour that may lead to speeding in a 20mph zone. Equally, drivers who break motorway variable speed limits have a specially tailored motorway equivalent
Do the courses prevent re-offending?
To find out whether the courses are worthwhile or not, NDORS has done some extensive research. It concluded: “A total of 99 per cent of clients who responded at follow-up reported that they had changed their driving after attending the course. They were notably driving more slowly, being more aware of the road environment and of their speed, and feeling less stressed while driving. The majority (90 per cent) reported that they had not experienced any difficulties in applying what they had learnt.”
How many times can you do a course?
The NSAC isn’t an excuse to persistently flout the speed limit and still keep your licence. You can only do one speed awareness course every three years.
Are the courses worthwhile?
The courses aren’t free so they’re not a cheap get-out. Prices vary across the country but they usually cost somewhere between £70 and £100. And of course, you’ll have to take a day off work to attend. Where NSAC differs to taking the points and a fine for speeding is that in the eyes of the law, a course isn’t a conviction. Equally, information about people going on courses isn’t shared with the insurance industry. However, some insurers will ask whether you’ve taken an NSAC. If you have, they may increase your premium because they consider you a greater risk. Others will show no interest at all. A general rule of thumb is that if you’re asked, tell the truth.
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