Nationwide scheme lets drivers escape licence points.

Go back to school and avoid points on your licence. That’s the choice being offered to motorists caught speeding. Under new rules, drivers can opt for a ‘speed awareness course’ rather than pay a fine and accept points on their licence.

It won’t be a soft option, though. Nor will it allow persistent speeders to keep clean licences. The courses will be offered as an alternative only to drivers who speed ‘marginally’. That means, for instance, those caught travelling at between 35 and 39mph in a 30mph zone. Drivers stopped for speeding where they present a particular danger, such as outside schools and hospitals, will still face prosecution.

What’s more, drivers will be offered the course only once in three years. If they are caught more often, they’ll automatically face prosecution. The courses will cost between £70 and £120. So taking one will be dearer than the £60 penalty typically handed out to speeders. They’ll consist of a serious of classroom sessions which will include time spent on driving simulators. Attendance will be closely watched and anyone who pays but dsn’t turn up will receive a fine and points.

The scheme, called the National Speed Awareness Course, is already offered by some police forces, including Leicestershire, Norfolk, Kent, Hertfordshire and Devon and Cornwall. But one of the problems so far is that drivers caught far from home haven’t been able to take courses unless they are prepared to travel long distances.

But the course is now being made available by all 43 police forces. It is part of a response by a Government, stung by claims that speeding fines in Britain are more about raising money for the Treasury than improving road safety.

Stephen Jury


May 14, 2008