A speed awareness course is a policing initiative designed to clamp down on speeding in the UK.
Which is just as well because, according to Government statistics, when people have the opportunity to speed, they will. A staggering 39% of UK drivers were caught exceeding the speed limit in 2020 during ‘free flow speed’. This is where the road has no traffic, sharp bends, speed cameras, junctions or hills.
However, thanks to speed awareness courses, 1.29 million people avoided a speeding fine in 2018/19, out of 2.4 million issued tickets. So, it may be worth your while going back to school the next time you’re given the chance…
By the end of this article, you will understand:
- What is a Speed Awareness Course
- How much Speed Awareness Courses cost
- What to expect from the course
- How to book a Speed Awareness Course
- Whether you’re eligible for a course
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What is a Speed Awareness Course?
A speed awareness course is an instructor-led session that offers an honest discussion about safe driving. It aims to change your attitude towards speeding and make you a safer driver.
Most importantly, it is a theory test refresher. This wasn’t introduced until 1996, so many UK drivers have never learned the content before passing their driving test. Speed awareness courses include discussions about the following:
- The Highway Code
- Braking distances
- Road signs
- Other best driving practices.
What Happens on a Speed Awareness Course?
You take an active part in discussions and role-play scenarios, guided by an instructor. They also offer you some tips on how to improve your responses throughout. Everything is designed to improve your driving style.
It may sound like you’re going back to school, but there’s no test at the end or strict classroom discipline. Instead, you must demonstrate to the instructor that you’ve changed your attitude towards speeding. If they feel you’ve made enough progress, they will tell the police to drop the speeding charge.
But is that what you should really expect?
What Should I Expect From a Speed Awareness Course?
Speed awareness courses aren’t quite as non-patronising as the providers describe.
For starters, it is still a punishment. It’s less severe than a speeding fine, but you do have to ‘sit down, do as you’re told, get it done and move on’. If you don’t take part or make enough progress, the instructor will refer your case back to the police. You will then have to pay the fine and take the penalty points as well.
Discussion topics can include personal experiences and spotting hazards on a dashcam journey. As over 50% of UK drivers exceeded the 30mph speed limit in 2020, there’s a heavy focus on speeding in built-up areas. However, the course also covers motorway, single- and dual-carriageway speeding as well.
The discussions also include some graphic images of high-speed crashes. These images can be a sobering but very effective deterrent from speeding – exactly what a speed awareness course aims to achieve.
By the end of the course, you should be able to show improvement in your knowledge of the following areas:
- The consequences of speeding
- Personal responsibility on the roads
- The impact of your behaviour on others
- Knowledge and skills surrounding the Highway Code
You should also have a few next steps to avoid repeat offending and become a better driver.
How Long is a Speed Awareness Course?
Speed awareness courses take between 4/5 hours with a break in the middle. They don’t provide food, so you’ll need to bring your own if you wish to eat during the break. Courses are available during the day, evenings and at weekends.
How much does a Speed Awareness Course cost?
Speed awareness courses cost about £100. However, each police force sets their own price. The eligibility letter will include the exact price, but you may also find the speed awareness cost near you on your police forces’ website.
Remember that the speed awareness course cost takes into account more than money. While the fine may seem cheaper, any speeding offence also adds 3 penalty points to your licence. If these take you up to 12 penalty points, you face disqualification. For any driver with less than 2 years experience, 6 points equal a disqualification.
But if the average speed awareness course price is £100, why bother with it? Isn’t the speeding fine £100 as well?
How Much Are Speeding Fines?
In April 2017, the structure of speeding fines changed. While the standard Fixed Penalty Notice is still a £100 fine and 3 penalty points, there are now more severe penalties for serious offences or repeat offenders. You can be summoned to a magistrates court and, if found guilty, forced to pay a larger fine. This equates to a percentage of your weekly wage and increases with the severity of your offence.
The maximum UK speeding fine is £1,000. In 2021, that increased to £2,500 for motorway speeding.
Legal Speed Limit (MPH) Band A Recorded Speed (MPH) Band B Recorded Speed (MPH) Band C Recorded Speed (MPH) 20 21-30 31-40 41+ 30 31-40 41-50 51+ 40 41-55 56-65 66+ 50 51-65 66-75 76+ 60 61-80 81-90 91+ 70 71-90 91-100 101+ 3 points on your licence 4-6 points on your licence OR 7-28 days disqualification 6 points on your licence OR 7-56 days disqualification Fined 50% of relevant weekly income Fined 100% of relevant weekly income Fined 150% of relevant weekly income
Legal Speed Limit (MPH)
Band A Recorded Speed (MPH)
Band B Recorded Speed (MPH)
Band C Recorded Speed (MPH)
3 points on your licence
4-6 points on your licence OR 7-28 days disqualification
6 points on your licence OR 7-56 days disqualification
Fined 50% of relevant weekly income
Fined 100% of relevant weekly income
Fined 150% of relevant weekly income
Magistrates have 25% leeway for imposing fines. This means mitigating circumstances might reduce your fine to 25% – but you could also end up paying 175% in Band C!
Speed Awareness Course Eligibility: Will I Be Offered a Speed Awareness Course?
You are not eligible for a speed awareness course if you fall into any of the following three categories:
- You’re too far over the speeding limit. You’re only eligible when caught between 10% + 2mph and 10% + 9mph over the speed limit (see table below).
- You’ve attended another speed awareness course in the last three years.
- Your police force doesn’t offer speed awareness courses.
If you’re eligible for a speed awareness course, your Notice of Intended Prosecution (the document informing you of a speeding offence), will give you the option and all the relevant information. If you intend to accept the offer, you must fill out the form within the allocated time limit to inform the police. This halts the prosecution charges until after your speed awareness course.
Your eligibility depends on you being caught between the following speeds:
Speed Limit Minimum Eligible Speed Maximum Eligible Speed 30 mph 35 mph 42 mph 40 mph 46 mph 53 mph 50 mph 57 mph 64 mph 60 mph 68 mph 75 mph 70 mph 79 mph 86 mph
Minimum Eligible Speed
Maximum Eligible Speed
Please note that while police forces are encouraged to adopt a 10% discretion when it comes to speeding, you should not expect this. Even 1 mph over the limit breaks the law – so don’t take the risk!
How to Book a Speed Awareness Course
To book your course, enter the registration number and pin included on your Notice of Intended Prosecution (if eligible). You can then select a date and time that suits you and pay the relevant fee.
Once you’ve booked your speed awareness course, you must arrive on time and bring photo ID (such as a photocard driving licence) to prove your identity. If you don’t have this, then you need to provide 2 forms of ID.
If you fail to provide ID, turn up on time or leave before the course finishes, you can be excluded from the session. The centre will then refer your case back to the police.
Can You Do a Speed Awareness Course Online?
Currently, all speed awareness courses are offered online. These sessions are only 2 1/2 hours long, with a 10-minute break.
For an online speed awareness course, you need a fully charged laptop, phone or tablet with a webcam/camera and access to fast internet. You’ll sign in to a virtual waiting room, confirm your identity and then enter an online classroom.
An online speed awareness course includes the same content as a face-to-face session, just with a much smaller group. Again, you must stay for the entire session or your case will be referred back to the police.
Do You Have to Declare a Speed Awareness Course to Your Insurance Provider?
You don’t have to declare a speed awareness course to your insurer immediately. However, you must inform them if they ask you.
If you don’t own up when asked and then try to make a claim, you could find your policy invalidated.
Some price comparison sites ask if you’ve been on a course while finding your quotes. While insurers are more likely to raise your premium if you have points on your licence, attending a speed awareness course indicates that you’re a higher risk driver. This means you may see higher quotes than you’re used to.
Speed awareness courses don’t affect your driving licence in any way.
If you’ve been caught speeding, you may be offered a speed awareness course. It’s a discussion about driving habits that aims to change your attitude towards speed and make you a safer driver.
Speed awareness courses cost around £100 and are offered across the UK. You can book them at a time and date that suits you and with a range of providers. You may also be offered an online speed awareness course. To avoid the £100 speeding fine and 3 penalty points on your licence, you must stay for the entire session, while serious offences or repeat offenders are not eligible for a course.
There is no pass/fail test, but if you don’t participate or make ‘significant progress’ during the session, the instructor will refer your case back to the police. If this happens, you will have to pay the fine and take the points as well as paying for the course.
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Mandy is an ex-mechanic, with 22 years’ experience in the motor industry. As an in-house motoring expert, Mandy is the go-to woman for any relevant questions that our customers have; both garages and drivers. From specific problems with your car to general maintenance, Mandy is a reliable source of information and advice. Her passion for motoring is a huge factor to her success and the huge wealth of knowledge that she has. She now uses her remarkable grasp of the industry to write regular content for our readers to help drivers understand their car better, avoid being ripped off by garages and save money on their motoring requirements.