What is a speed-awareness course?

If you’re caught speeding, you might be offered the choice of attending a speed awareness course as an alternative to 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 as an alternative to 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.

Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
minute read
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Posted 30 OCTOBER 2019 Last Updated 1 DECEMBER 2021

What is a speed awareness course? 

You’ve probably heard about speed awareness courses, either if you’ve been on one yourself or you know someone who’s been caught speeding in the past.  

Speed awareness courses aim to educate drivers about their speeding and act as an incentive to stop them doing it again. They’re offered by some regional police forces as an alternative to adding three penalty points to your licence and a £100 fine. 

The courses aren’t compulsory and it’s up to each police force to decide whether to offer them or not. 

If you’re given the option, taking one of these courses is a no-brainer. Not only will you learn something, you could also escape a fine and points on your licence. 

Who can be offered a place on a speed awareness course? 

Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll always be able to choose a speed awareness course – they’re not a get-out-of-jail-free card. If you were driving way over the limit, it’s not only incredibly dangerous but the penalty is also going to be harsher. 

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 typically between the speed limit + 10% + 2mph and the speed limit + 10% + 9mph (for example, between 35-42mph in a 30mph zone). 

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. 

If you’re the kind of person who isn’t great with dates and deadlines, make a note to reply on time. This isn’t something you want to send back late, so make your decision and reply as soon as possible. 

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 managed by the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) and are supported by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). 

Each police force appoints a course provider, regulated by the Association of National Driver Improvement Scheme Providers (ANDISP), to deliver courses in their region. 

Do I have to pay for a speed awareness course?

Yes. Prices vary, but a course typically costs between £80 and £100. 

You’ve been caught speeding - and breaking the law - so you can’t get away without paying for the crime. But taking a speed awareness course not only gives you the opportunity to learn extra driving skills, it could also cost you less than a speeding fine.

What do speed awareness courses cover?

Topics include: 

  • the benefits of complying with speed limits 
  • attitudes surrounding speeding 
  • the consequences of speeding 
  • knowledge and skills 
  • personal responsibility 
  • the impact of your behaviour on other road users.

Do speed awareness courses work? 

Taking a speed awareness course is a way to improve your driving skills. The facts speak for themselves and those who take one become better and safer drivers, so look at it as a life-improver, not as a boring way to spend a few hours.  

In 2017, nearly 1.2 million drivers chose to attend a speed awareness course. A government study found people who have taken the course are up to 23% less likely to reoffend within six months of attending and only 21% reoffend within three years – compared to 23% for those who took points instead of the course. 

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 will most likely state that you need a clean driving licence. 

Having penalty points on your licence is also likely to 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 be 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 additional education and driving skills you’ve obtained by taking a speed awareness course. 

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 if the new price is cheaper, you could save money overall.
  • 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. 

You won’t be asked when starting a quote with us, as it’s not classed as a driving conviction. Course data isn’t held by 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

But it’s still a good idea to tell your insurance provider that you’ve attended a speed awareness course. There’s always the chance that withholding information could invalidate your car insurance – so it’s not worth the risk of keeping quiet. 

And while some providers may increase your annual premium, others may simply make a note on your insurance file without changing the price of your policy. 

When it comes to insurance, honesty is always the best way to go, so we recommend telling your insurance provider if you’ve attended a speed awareness course. If they do increase the price of your premium, shop around to see if you can find a cheaper deal from another provider.

How can a speed awareness course benefit my car insurance? 

Taking a course means avoiding penalty points and a driving conviction, which can push up the cost of your premium. 

However, the main purpose of a speed awareness course is to encourage safe driving habits. Understanding the impact of high-speed driving could significantly help you improve your road skills and become a safer driver. This means you’ll be less of a risk and your chances of having an accident will be far lower. 

Safer driving also means 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 you’re a young driver, you might also benefit from cheaper car insurance by taking out a black box policy. Telematics technology can help you monitor your driving habits, including your speed. If you can prove you drive carefully, within the speed limits, you might be rewarded with a cheaper premium. 

Top tips to avoid speeding 

The best option is to avoid a speeding fine or speed awareness course altogether. You, and other road users will be safer – and you may end up paying less for your car insurance. 

Here’s 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 a hands-free navigation app 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 – 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. If you find out you’re not - don’t be tied down by loyalty. Switch and save money.  

It’s a good idea to shop around and compare different insurance providers before buying a policy. And comparing car insurance quotes with us could save you up to £262** on your premium. 

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

**Based on Online independent research by Consumer Intelligence during August, 2021. 51% of customers could achieve this saving on their car insurance through Compare the Market. 

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