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Speed awareness courses explained

If you’re caught speeding, you might be able to avoid getting points on your licence and paying a fine by attending a National Speed Awareness course. But how do driving awareness courses work, and what do they cost?
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What is a speed awareness course?

A speed awareness course is designed to reduce the likelihood of you speeding in the future, and includes information about the dangers you and others face if you speed.

A course will show you the consequences of driving too fast and then educate you on stopping distances, how to determine speed limits on varying types of roads, and how to improve your awareness of your surroundings when you’re behind the wheel.

Although you won’t have to pass an exam, you’ll be expected to demonstrate a ‘positive attitude’ during the session and contribute to group discussions.

What happens on a speed awareness course?

Speed awareness courses are theoretical and don’t involve any hands-on driving.

The sessions include videos that show you the dangers you cause when you speed, and there will be discussions between the attendees and the course leader.

There will also be information about how to understand what the speed limits are on roads you don’t know, and how to avoid being pressured by other drivers into speeding.

How much does a speed awareness course cost?

A speed awareness course isn’t much cheaper than a speeding fine, with the typical cost being about £85. But opting to take the course over receiving penalty points could save you money in the long run, as car insurance premiums can jump significantly if you’re given points.

When would I be offered a place on a speed awareness course?

To be offered the option of going on a speed awareness course rather than paying a fine and getting points on your licence, you must fit the following criteria:

  • It must be your first offence in the last three years

  • You've been caught driving over 10% plus 2mph of the limit, but below 10% plus 9mph. In other words, if you were in a 30mph zone, this means anything between 35mph and 42mph, while for those driving in a 70mph zone, it means anything between 79mph and 86mph.

Otherwise, you’ll have no choice but to receive a fixed penalty notice and a minimum of three points on your licence.

What happens if I don’t go on a speed awareness course?

If you simply just don’t turn up to your speed awareness course without giving a valid excuse, you should expect to receive a court summons and – if you’re found guilty – a fine and points on your licence.

If you can’t attend because your availability changes, you should get in touch with the course provider as soon as you can to rebook.

Will attending a speed awareness course affect the cost of my car insurance?

Insurers take the view that drivers who have committed a speeding offence are a higher risk than those who don’t.

Generally, however, having points on your licence will have a greater effect on your premiums, and your insurance costs could increase for up to 11 years, depending on the seriousness of the offence.

If you accept a place on a speed awareness course instead, your licence will remain points-free and the impact on your car insurance cover should be less.

But even if your insurer does want to know if you’ve been on a speed awareness course, in reality, many of them don’t increase premiums for a single offence

Do I have to tell my car insurance provider I’ve been on a speed awareness course?

Bear in mind that any speeding convictions and points must legally be declared to your insurance company – even when shopping around on a comparison website.

But the onus is on the insurer to collect all the information they need from you to provide cover, not for you to declare everything that they think might be important.

What’s more, the police and local authorities don’t inform insurers about speed awareness courses, either.

But don’t be tempted to withhold this information in a bid to keep your costs down. If you have been asked by an insurance provider if you’ve been on a speed awareness course, you must answer truthfully or you’ll risk invalidating your policy.

If you have already taken out a car insurance policy but unintentionally failed to declare a speed awareness course, you should contact them and inform them you’ve taken the course.

There is a chance that your premiums will increase, but if you’re caught lying then your insurance will be invalidated, and the financial and legal implications of driving without insurance are far greater.

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