Speed awareness dominates driver retraining courses

12.20 | 19 February 2019 | | 8 comments

More than 10m road users have completed a driver retraining course since they were introduced in 2010 – 90% of whom attended a speed awareness course.

Statistics published by the RAC Foundation show that in 2018, 1.45m people accepted a place on one of the courses sometimes offered by police as an alternative to a fine and points for some motoring offences.

1.19m of these – 82% of the 2017 total – attended a speed awareness course, taking the total number of attendees for this type of course to nine million.

The retraining courses available include:

  • National Motorway Awareness Course (NMAC) – for drivers who exceed the active variable speed limit on motorways
  • National RIDE Course (RiDE) – for motorcyclists whose behaviour brings them to the attention of the police
  • National Speed Awareness Course (NSAC) – designed to cover speeding offences
  • Safe and Considerate Driving (SCD) – for drivers who, as a result of a lapse of concentration or an error of judgement, have been involved in a collision without serious consequences
  • What’s Driving Us? Course (WDU) – in circumstances where a driver’s ‘mischief’ was intentional or deliberate
  • Your Belt Your Life (online course) – for offenders caught not wearing a seatbelt

Almost all the courses are run by private companies and the fee for attendees can vary by type, location and provider. NDORS (National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme) – the organisation that administers the scheme – said course fees in 2017 ranged from £75 to £99 – £45 of which is returned to the police force which referred the offender.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “This data suggests that, astonishingly, as many as one in four drivers has now been sent back to the classroom for breaking road traffic law – hopefully to emerge as ambassadors for better, more responsible motoring behaviours.

“While the logic of sending drivers who commit minor transgressions back to the classroom is clear, it begs the question of what should be done in a similar vein to tutor those found guilty of more serious breaches of the rules of the roads before they injure or kill themselves or others?”



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    I was given three points on my licence after being caught by a speed camera slightly exceeding the limit. It was an unusual time of day. There wasn’t another human being or car in sight. Did the penalty improve my driving? I felt that I wasn’t doing much wrong in the first place.

    Nicholas Browne, Cambridge
    Agree (1) | Disagree (1)

    May I respectfully suggest that doing nothing at all, will result in nothing happening. Whereas, having the different courses, provides those that do attend with an open mind, the opportunity to self-reflect and make some change to there driving/riding attitude(s), either immediately or in the post course future.

    I have spent so many years investigating and forensically reporting upon casualty collisions in the south, and also spent a similar time facilitating advanced driving and riding in the some area. The result being little if no change to realistically talk about. Reliance upon technologies was the talk of the town through the 80’s and 90’s, and now we have plateaued. With now some 4 or so years delivering the courses in their variant forms; the clients attending these courses, do in general state that they feel they have benefited from the course material. My belief is that the courses get them to think more about the consequences in particular and the risks to their families.

    What is unlikely to be quantifiable is the potential effects that their updated or new perceptions have upon the people they know and discuss these issues with. Sowing the seeds of behavioural change widely across society, statistically with have varying positive effects, as well as either neutral or negative ones. This will, however, take time and some 8 years in changing engrained and possibly deepening attitudes, is realistically a short time period.

    There is a place for retraining, even the clients in the main believe this to be true, but that’s another discuss.

    A. Short, Littlehampton
    Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

    Nigel. Human nature being what it is tells us that drivers will never acknowledge their dificences on the road and will never ever consider paying out say £100 to improve that situation in the hope that it will or may improve their road safety knowledge or driving ability. That as opposed to having to pay that sum out as a punishment.

    Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

    Perhaps the most interesting, and possibly saddest bit about this, is that these are all drivers who, for one reason or another HAD to do retraining, rather than those who understood that the standard driving test is the lowest level of competence for driving on the roads (albeit that most drive below that level) and wanted to improve their basic safety level.

    Nigel ALBRIGHT
    Agree (4) | Disagree (0)

    With some 10 million having attended speed awareness courses the public could expect to be presented with a robust study showing the long term effectiveness of such courses.

    Having been responsible for 11 years delivering such courses with a team for one of the Constabularies and attending numerous NDORS meetings, we were never presented with any such evidence.

    Only studies based on self-reporting by the attendees themselves.

    A look at the USA studies using matching cohorts for groups who attended and those who were not allowed to attend will demonstrate the lack of any long term impact on driver behaviour.

    The UK studies I believe have actually stated the impact is only short term, possibly not extending beyond 3 or 6 months.

    However, it does look good for those running NDORS in the long term.

    Agree (12) | Disagree (0)

    It’s all bad road behaviour anyway, so why have different courses? Why not just one, attendance at which could be triggered by any offences at the discretion of the police/authority – could be called Driver Improvement Course for example. I’ve sat in on a speed awareness course and a driver improvement course and they were pretty much the same.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (2) | Disagree (2)

    Just as this was published this popped up in my social media. It is a parody on Speed Awareness course from Northern Ireland.

    “Man reveals ordeal after finally emerging from Speed Awareness course.

    A local man has described the horrific four-hour ordeal he suffered at a Speed Awareness Course after an emotional reunion with his family yesterday.

    Martin Aston was trapped along with twenty-three others on an AA DriveTech course in Belfast for an unnecessarily long period of time.

    The 66-year-old wept as the icy Northern Irish rain pelted his face for the first time in over four hours.

    Scenes of jubilation erupted each time a course participant arrived to a hero’s welcome outside Quay Gate House in the city.

    Large video screens were set up in public places like Belfast’s City Hall to let people watch and cheer as each person on the course was hauled to safety.”

    There is stronger language in the article – I would understand if the moderator would not want to post the link, however in the vain of Spitting Image, it is a privilege to be parodied!


    Trevor Baird
    Agree (2) | Disagree (3)

    And yet statistically collisions have plateaued over the same period of time. More and more drivers caught at speeds in excess of the speed limit or police speed allowances [ over 1.000.000 speeding ] and placed on courses and yet no further decreases in collisions over the same period of time.

    Does that indicate that something is not working or are we looking at the wrong causations?

    Agree (7) | Disagree (4)

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