Record number of drivers opt for awareness courses

Record number of drivers opt for awareness courses
Almost one and a half million drivers took a training course after committing an offence on the roads last year.

Record figures compiled by the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) show drivers are increasingly turning to the courses, which allow them to avoid begin handed penalty points on their license.

The figures also underlined some regional disparities – with drivers in certain areas having to fork out far more than others to sit the sessions.

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Speed awareness was by far the most popular course, with around 1.2 million attendees over the course of 2017. With a total of nine retraining schemes on offer, overall attendee numbers were up by 2% year-on-year.

The courses are offered at the discretion of police forces, who directly receive £45 from each driver who commits an offence – recently up from £35. The fee is regarded as a recovery measure and is used to fund police efforts to catch speeding drivers.

Constabularies across the UK now receive around £54 million from offenders each year. But as the courses are provided by private companies, the cost to speeding drivers varies across the UK.

In Northamptonshire a speed awareness course costs £75, while the same course costs 32% more, or £99, in Essex.

The new data also revealed attendee numbers varies significantly between constabularies.

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said of the confusing figures: “What might perplex drivers is how the number of offenders sent on speed awareness courses differs hugely by constabulary.

“In 2016, 80,235 drivers were offered the courses in Avon and Somerset. In neighbouring Wiltshire, nobody was.”

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Mr Gooding added the number of offending drivers choosing to take an awareness course could “be topped” thanks to the new laws regarding red X signals over new smart motorway lanes.

Since 2016, around 80,000 offenders have received warning letters after breaking the new smart motorway rules, with the most common offence seeing drivers continuing to use closed lanes.

Copyright Press Association 2018. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.