What is a Speed Awareness Course?
If you’re caught breaking the speed limit, you could be fined and end up with penalty points. In some cases though, you might be given the chance to attend a speed awareness course instead. Here’s how they work and what the potential impact is on your car insurance.
What is a speed awareness course?
If you speed, you could be fined £100 and have three penalty points added to your driving licence. A speed awareness course is offered as an alternative to this, but it’s not an option available to everyone.
The course is officially called the National Speed Awareness Course. It’s one of many programmes offered by the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) which is managed by the UK Road Offender Education group (UKROEd). The courses themselves are provided by accredited organisations and various police forces across the country.
Who’s eligible for a speed awareness course?
You don’t get to choose between doing the course or paying the fine and getting penalty points. Instead, you’ll be invited to do a course but to be eligible, you have to meet these conditions:
- You admit to being the driver of the vehicle and have submitted all the necessary paperwork within the 28 days required.
- No more than 12 weeks have passed since the date of the incident.
- You haven’t been on a speed awareness course within the last three years.
To qualify, you also need to be driving within accepted tolerances — this is 10% of the speed limit + 2mph up to a maximum of +9mph. For example, if you were in a 30mph area but drove between 35mph and 42mph, you could still be eligible for a course. If you drive faster than the maximum tolerance level you could end up in court and risk a driving ban.
Current tolerance levels are:
|Accepted tolerance to qualify for a speed awareness course
|From 24mph to 31mph
|From 35mph to 42mph
|From 46mph to 53mph
|From 57mph to 64mph
|From 68mph to 75mph
|From 79mph to 86mph
Bear in mind that these tolerances are just a guide and police forces will consider a range of factors before making a decision about whether a course is appropriate.
Do speed awareness courses cost money?
Yes, you’ll need to pay for the course but prices vary across different providers. Courses are currently being run online at a cost of between £75 and £95 although in-person courses are likely to be slightly more when they’re back up and running. The cost is reflective of the fixed penalty fine you would have had to pay.
How long is a speed awareness course?
Courses last around four hours and you’ll cover the importance of sticking to speed limits and understanding the consequences if you don’t.
The courses aren’t a punishment and there’s no formal testing at the end. They’re specifically designed to be educational and help improve your driving habits and boost road awareness.
Is it better to do a speed awareness course for car insurance?
Given a choice between doing a course or taking the fine and penalty points, the course is likely to be the better option for most drivers. This is because penalty points on your driving licence can result in higher than average car insurance premiums.
Penalty points also stay on your licence between four and 11 years (depending on how serious the offence) so they can influence the cost of cover for a considerable length of time.
Plus, if you end up with 12 or more penalty points within three years, you could be disqualified from driving.
Does a speed awareness course increase the cost of your insurance?
Generally speaking, no. Taking part in a speed awareness course should not affect the cost of your car insurance. In most cases you won’t even need to tell your insurer you’ve been on one.
However, if your insurer specifically asks if you’ve attended a speed awareness course, then you must tell them if you have. In this instance, your insurer may use this as a factor in calculating your car insurance premium and the cost of your policy could rise. On the other hand, some insurers see taking part in a course as a positive point and it might not affect your premium at all.
Is a speed awareness course a conviction or speeding offence?
The simple answer is that it’s neither. So, if you’re asked by your insurer whether or not you have any speeding offences or convictions on your licence you can say no.
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