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What is a speed-awareness course?

If you’re caught speeding, you might be offered the choice of attending a speed awareness course instead of receiving penalty points and a fine. 

But what exactly is a speed awareness course and will it affect your car insurance premium? Here’s our guide to what you need to know.

If you’re caught speeding, you might be offered the choice of attending a speed awareness course instead of receiving penalty points and a fine. 

But what exactly is a speed awareness course and will it affect your car insurance premium? Here’s our guide to what you need to know.

Written by
Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
Last Updated
15 JANUARY 2024
10 min read
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What is a speed awareness course?

We’re all aware that speeding on the road can have severe consequences for motorists and pedestrians. In addition to the safety concerns, drivers can end up with a £2,500 fine, up to six penalty points, and increased car insurance premiums. Despite these repercussions, many drivers in the UK still risk speeding. In fact, nearly 5,000 collisions in 2021 were caused by drivers exceeding the speed limit according to our recent accident report. However, not all drivers caught speeding will be slapped with a hefty fine and penalty points.

Some motorists may be offered to take the National Speed Awareness Course (NSAC), which provides eligible drivers with the option to take a short retraining course instead of facing further punishment. This course is offered by nearly all police forces within England and Wales, and nearly 1.5 million drivers completed it in 2022 alone.

But is it effective in combating speeding re-offences? And how many people are predicted to take a speed awareness course this year, and in years to come?

How many drivers will take speed awareness courses this year?

Since 2018, over 1 million people have taken the NSAC each year, and it’s unlikely 2023 will see any change in this trend. It’s currently predicted that 1,437,647 drivers will take the NSAC in 2023, which is a 2.8% decrease compared to the number of drivers that took it in 2022 (1,478,444). However, these numbers are expected to rise by 13% in the next five years, with 1,670,015 drivers predicted to take the NSAC in 2027.

The success of speed awareness courses

Taking a speed awareness course doesn’t just help you avoid licence penalty points, it can also reduce the number of drivers who re-offend. After taking a speed awareness course, a government study found that those who had participated were less likely to re-offend in the following three years than those who paid a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) fine and had penalty points added to their license.

Time since NSAC completed Estimated reduction of re-offences
6 months 13-23%
1 year 11-17%
2 years 9-12%
3 years 6-18%

 

This study found that three years after completing the NSAC, there was a 6-18% estimated reduction in the number of drivers caught speeding again.

The impact of speeding offences on insurance

Drivers who are not offered to take the NSAC could earn between three and six penalty points and face a minimum fine of £100 if pleading guilty when given an FPN. This goes up to £1,000 or £2,500 on the motorway if pleading not guilty, but later found to be.

Getting penalty points isn’t good for car insurance either. Drivers that have a criminal conviction or points on their license may not only encounter difficulties finding insurance providers that will cover them, but the cost to insure their car will increase.

How many drivers will need to take other road safety course

The NSAC isn’t the only police-ordered course drivers have the option of taking over receiving fines. We looked at what they are, and the number of drivers taking them.

  • Safe & Considerate Driving Course (SCD) - This course can be offered to motorists that were driving without due care and attention. This course covers the importance of concentration and the consequences of inconsiderate or risky driving.
  • What’s Driving Us Course (WDU) - Drivers may be offered this course by the police if they were involved in a collision-free road traffic incident. During this course, participants will learn about the importance of concentration, and observation, and why their own driving may be unsafe.
  • National Motorway Awareness Course (NMAS) - Drivers who have been caught speeding, disobeying a red X lane closure sign, or misusing lanes on the motorway may be offered this course. It covers what motorway signs mean, what lanes you can drive in, how to use emergency refuge and how to know what the speed limit is.
  • Your Belt, Your Life Course (YBYL) - This interactive course covers the importance of wearing a seatbelt and using the correct child car seat.
Type of course 2022 2023
predicted
2025
predicted
Safe & Considerate Driving (SCD) 7,428 4,698 1,259
What’s Driving Us (WDU) 93,177 86,470 93,445
National Motorway Awareness Course (NMAC) 168,542 156,880 182,454
Your Belt, Your Life (YBYL) 16,321 12,729 8,295

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

The criteria for offering a speed awareness course varies depending on the police force. You may be eligible if: 

  • You haven’t attended a speed awareness course in the past three years
  • The speed you were caught at was within the acceptable range. This is usually between the ‘speed limit + 10% + 2mph’ and the ‘speed limit + 10% + 9mph’ (for example, 35-42mph in a 30mph zone). If you were going way over the limit, not only is this extremely dangerous, it’s unlikely you’ll be offered the option of a speed awareness course.

How will I know if a speed awareness course is an option?

If you’re stopped for speeding by the police or caught by a speed camera, you’ll be sent a notice of intended prosecution within 14 days. If you’re eligible to go on a course, you’ll be given three options:

  • A speed awareness course
  • A fixed penalty notice
  • A court hearing to appeal the offence. 

You’ll be given a date, time and location to attend the speed awareness course. You can choose to accept the offer or decline and take the fixed penalty instead.

Who runs speed awareness courses? 

Speed awareness courses are run by specially trained teams. Your local police force will be able to tell you the details of where and when they’re held. 

The courses are run by the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS), which is managed by UK Road Offender Education (UKROEd).

Do I have to pay for a speed awareness course?

Yes. Prices vary, but a course typically costs between £73 and £95.

What happens on a speed awareness course?

Speed awareness courses are theoretical and classroom-based, rather than practical lessons, so you won’t need to drive during the course. They’re delivered online as well as in person.

On the course, the trainer will use videos and other visual aids to encourage you to respect speed limits in future. Don’t worry, it’s not all gruesome crash footage. The emphasis is on getting drivers to think about why they should avoid speeding and teaching them practical ways they can drive more safely. There’s a lot of focus on group discussion and participation. 

Attendees will learn:

  • How to identify speed limits and work out the speed limit of unfamiliar roads
  • Why it’s dangerous to speed and the potential consequences to themselves and others if they were to crash as a result of speeding
  • How speeding can affect stopping distances
  • How to recognise and resist pressure to speed from themselves and others
  • The importance of concentration to recognise potential hazards
  • How to improve awareness of your surroundings
  • The importance of giving other motorists space
  • How to manage time so you don’t end up speeding to get somewhere.

At the end of the course, attendees will have the chance to make a personal plan about how they’re going to drive differently in the future to avoid speeding.

Do speed awareness courses work? 

The facts speak for themselves: people who take speed awareness courses become better and safer drivers.  

In 2017, nearly 1.2 million drivers chose to attend a speed awareness course. A government study found that people who’ve taken the course are up to 23% less likely to reoffend within six months of attending.

Why choose a speed awareness course? 

As a speed awareness course can cost around the same amount as a speeding fine, the main motivation for many drivers is to avoid penalty points on their licence. A speeding conviction will stay on your driving record for at least four years. 

Penalty points could have an impact on your job prospects, especially if you drive for a living. For example if you’re a delivery driver, your contract might say that you need a clean driving licence. 

Having penalty points on your licence will probably increase your car insurance premium. A speed awareness course isn’t classed as a driving conviction and as you’ll avoid penalty points, your licence will remain clean.

But don’t just think of it as a way of avoiding penalty points. More crucially, it’s important and useful training that could help you become a better and safer driver.

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

It depends on the insurance provider. Some may raise your premium as they consider the fact that you were speeding a risk. On the other hand, some insurance providers may take a positive approach to the new driving skills you’ve learned.

Becoming a safer driver may mean you pay less for your car insurance in the long run. There’s less chance of you having to make a claim, which will help you build up your no-claims discount over the years.

If your insurance provider increases your premiums, you do have options: 

  • Switch your car insurance provider - you’re likely to be charged an admin fee for ending a policy early but you could save money overall if the new price is cheaper.
  • Consider a telematics policy - these are policies based on your driving being monitored and may lower your premiums in response.
  • Beef up your car’s security - keep your car in a secure place, ideally a locked garage, as this can lower your premiums.
  • Keep your miles down - driving less and keeping your annual mileage low could reduce your insurance costs.

Do I have to tell my insurance provider?

You don’t legally have to tell your insurance provider that you’ve been on a speed awareness course unless they specifically ask you. If they do, you must be honest or you could invalidate your car insurance.

You won’t be asked when starting a quote with us, as a speed awareness course isn’t classed as a driving conviction. Course data is held by UKROEd and not the DVLA, so it won’t be on your driving record and can’t be checked by insurance providers.

However, you must declare any unspent driving convictions and points on your licence. If you don’t tell your insurance provider about any convictions in the past five years, it could invalidate your car insurance.

If you’re not sure if any past convictions are spent, you can check your licence information at GOV.UK.

Top tips to avoid speeding 

The best option is to avoid a speeding fine or speed awareness course altogether. Here are our top tips for avoiding speeding: 

  • Give yourself plenty of time to complete your journey, set off early and factor in possible traffic hotspots and diversions.
  • Use maps on your phone before you set off or sat nav for a clear route to follow, traffic updates and speed limit warnings.
  • Always look at the road signs, even if you think you know the limit for the road you’re on.
  • Pay particular attention to your speed near schools, parks and shopping centres – even if you’re within the speed limit, slow right down.
  • Use cruise control on the motorway if you can – it’ll curb the temptation to put your foot down on long stretches.

Compare and save 

With the price of pretty much everything increasing right now, there’s no time like the present to check you’re getting a good price for your car insurance. Why not shop around and compare different insurance providers? Comparing car insurance quotes with us could save you up to £549[1] on your premium.

Just enter your details and the details of your car, and within a matter of minutes you’ll have a range of insurance providers to choose from.

[1] Based on Online independent research by Consumer Intelligence during March 2024, 51% of customers could achieve this saving on their car insurance through Compare the Market.

METHODOLOGY

By researching the most recent government data, Comparethemarket revealed how many drivers are taking National Driver Offender Retraining Schemes (NDORS) each year and how many are predicted to take them in the coming years using a TREND formula.

All data is accurate as of January 2023.

Number of people who attended and completed NDORS
Percentage of re-offenders
Reported road collisions
Fines and Penalties

Frequently asked questions

How long does a speed-awareness course last?

Course typically last between two hours and 45 minutes to four hours.

How many people will be on the course?

You can expect up to 24 other motorists to join you on an in-person course. The online classes have a smaller limit of up to nine other attendees.

When can I take a speed-awareness course?

Courses run at different times throughout the week, and on evenings and weekends too, so you won’t necessarily need to take time off work to attend.

Can you fail a speed-awareness course?

There’s no exam to take so you can’t pass or fail. But you’ll have to be there for the full duration of the course, and trainers will expect you to show a positive attitude throughout and contribute to group discussions.

If you fail to complete the course, the provider will notify the police. They may allow you to pay to retake the course, or they may insist that you instead pay the fine and take the penalty points.

How many times can you take a speed-awareness course?

You can only take one speed-awareness course in a three-year period.

How do I book a speed-awareness course?

If you want to accept the offer of a course, you should return the form that comes with your police letter within the time limit stated. The letter will tell you which organisation is providing courses in your area and how to book.

What else do I need to know about attending a speed-awareness course?

When you attend your course, either online or in person, you’ll need to bring some form of photo ID – like your driving licence or passport.

If you’re attending an online course, you’ll need a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone with a working microphone and camera. You’ll also need a reliable internet connection that’s capable of streaming video, and a quiet place to take the course with no distractions. 

Make sure you arrive early. If you’re late, you may be refused entry and have to repay to take the course at another time. If you realise beforehand that you’ll be unable to attend, you should be able to reschedule – as long as it’s within the period stated in your letter from the police.

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