Speed awareness

Let’s face it, we’re all prone to lapses in concentration – and as I get older – more than ever.

I’ve been lucky so far, that these lapses haven’t been evident whilst driving, so I’ve managed to keep a clean driving licence for more years than I can remember.

If you’ve been caught-out by a speed camera, whilst driving over the speed limit, no doubt after beating yourself up for your lapse in concentration, you conclude you’ve ‘done the crime so must do the time’ – or at least pay the fine.

These days of course you have an alternative to the inevitable three point endorsement – the conditional option of taking a Driver Awareness Course.

The courses, costing over £100, bring in income – and nice fat profits – for the few select companies who enjoy comfortable and mutually lucrative relationships with the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).

Speeding fines go to central government but the fees for these courses are shared between the companies that are contracted to run them and the police – nice work if you can get it eh?

I’m guessing that most individuals choose the courses because they think that avoiding points on their licence will also avoid steep increases in their insurance premiums.

Unfortunately insurance companies treat these courses exactly the same as penalty points and failure to declare attendance on one could invalidate your insurance.

Of course in their desire to sell you the preferable (for them) option of a Driver Awareness Course  – the police choose not to tell you this. I would even suggest that being made aware of this might encourage speeders not to automatically choose the course but take the points.

The quality of tuition provided on the courses is also  cause for concern. One report described an attendee being asked why black-and-white chevrons erected on bends varied in numbers. He didn’t know – but was told by the tutor that this indicated the number of accidents there had been on that particular bend!

The carrot for motorists is that attending a course avoids a conviction – so you do not need to volunteer the information when taking out or renewing a vehicle insurance policy. However, one of the questions insurers are now asking is – if you’ve attended a speed awareness course – then loading premiums as a consequence.

Yet another cause for concern is that many course attendees are being told that attendance means no increase in premiums. One posed the question of increased insurance and the instructor said as there was no national database of attendees, if she chose not to tell her insurers they would never know!

If you do receive a Notice of Intended Prosecution with the conditional offer of a speed awareness course instead of a fine – we suggest you give it some serious thought before accepting either.

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