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What to expect on a speed-awareness course?

If you’re caught speeding, you might be given the option to attend a National Speed Awareness Course to avoid getting points on your licence. Find out what to expect from a speed-awareness course, how much it costs and how to book.

If you’re caught speeding, you might be given the option to attend a National Speed Awareness Course to avoid getting points on your licence. Find out what to expect from a speed-awareness course, how much it costs and how to book.

Written by
Rory Reid
Car and technology expert
Last Updated
8 min read
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When will you be asked to attend a speed-awareness course?

If you’re caught speeding by the police or by a speed camera, you may be given the chance to take a speed-awareness course, also known as an NDORS course (National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme), to avoid getting penalty points on your licence. The course is designed to help you recognise speed limits on different roads, motivate you to avoid speeding in future and to become aware of the possible consequences of driving too fast.

You’ll get a letter from the police within 14 days of being caught speeding, telling you the consequences of the offence and what your options are. If you’re deemed eligible for a speed-awareness course, you’ll be able to choose from the following three options: 

  • Pay a fine and accept three points on your driving licence
  • Pay to take a speed-awareness course
  • Go to court to appeal your case.

Although the cost of the course is usually comparable to the fine, you may decide the course is a better option, as you’ll avoid getting points on your licence, which may cause an increase in your car insurance premium.

How much does a speed-awareness course cost?

The speed-awareness course cost varies, often by area and provider, but, as of September 2022, a speed-awareness course typically costs in the region of £70-90. It’s comparable to the cost of the speeding fine, which is a minimum of £100 along with three penalty points. You may be able to pay the speed-awareness course costs in instalments.

The advantage of taking the speed-awareness course is keeping the penalty points off your licence, as well as getting a valuable refresher on the dangers of speeding. Depending on the conviction, points can stay on your licence for at least four years, and for the more serious driving convictions up to 11 years. Take the course and you can keep your driving licence nice and clean. The course should prove valuable in the long run, too.

A GOV.UK study also found that attending a National Speed Awareness Course (NSAC) was more effective at reducing the rate of drivers speeding over the following three years than the fine and penalty points.

Am I eligible to go on a speed-awareness course?

Your speed-awareness course eligibility will depend on your motoring offence. If this is your first speeding offence, or if it’s been at least three years since you attended a previous speed-awareness course, then you may be eligible to attend a course instead of getting points. But it also depends on how far over the speed limit you were driving.

To qualify for a speed-awareness course, the speed you were caught driving at needs to fall below a certain threshold. This is typically calculated as 10% of the speed limit plus 2mph.

If you’re caught driving over these limits, it’s classed as a more serious speeding offence and there’s a good chance you’ll end up in court.

The thresholds according to the National Police Chief Council (NPCC) are as follows. Up to:

  • 31 mph in a 20 mph area
  • 42 mph in a 30 mph area
  • 53 mph in a 40 mph area
  • 64 mph in a 50 mph area
  • 75 mph in a 60 mph area
  • 86 mph in a 70 mph area.

If you’re caught driving over these limits, it’s classed as a more serious speeding offence and there’s a good chance you’ll end up in court. Police officers are allowed to use their discretion when applying the guidelines.

What happens on the speed-awareness course? What will I learn?

Speed-awareness courses are theoretical and classroom-based, rather than practical lessons, so you won’t need to drive during the course. And don’t worry, there’s no exam to take on the day.

In pre-coronavirus days, you would be given a date and time to attend an interactive, in-person workshop session with other speeding offenders, ran by a trained course provider.

Since the pandemic, virtual speed-awareness courses are available online, but they follow a similar format.

On the speed-awareness course, the trainer will use videos and other visual aids to encourage you to respect speed limits in future and improve your driving skills. 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
  • The importance of giving other motorists space and how speeding can affect stopping distances
  • How to improve awareness of your surroundings, the importance of concentration to recognise potential hazards
  • How to recognise and resist pressure to speed from themselves and others.

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. 

How long does a speed-awareness course last?

Virtual speed-awareness courses usually last about three hours. If you’re attending a course in person, they can last three to five hours (including a break), and you’ll also need to factor in the time to get there and back, depending on how close you live to your allocated course centre.

How many people will be on the course?

Almost 1.5 million UK drivers attended a National Speed Awareness course in 2021. Normally you can expect 12-24 other motorists to join you on an in-person course. The online classes have a smaller limit, though, 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.

Make sure you agree to a course – or pay the fixed penalty notice – before the deadline specified by the police letter, or you’ll likely end up in court, as a result of your dangerous driving. You could even face a driving ban.

Can you fail a speed-awareness course?

There’s no exam to take at the end of the course, whether you pass or fail is at the discretion of the course provider. To pass, 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 don't, you may fail.

If for any reason 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.

The initial police letter will detail the enforcement period. This is the time you have to respond to the charge, either by taking a NSAC or by paying the fine. If you fail to either take the course or pay the fine within this period, you’ll be taken to court. 

Who runs speed-awareness courses?

Speed-awareness courses are now offered by almost all police forces in England and Wales. The courses are run by UKROEd, a not-for-profit organisation that manages the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) on behalf of the police.

Police forces that offer the courses will appoint a course provider, who is regulated by the Association of National Driver Improvement Course Providers (ANDISP), to deliver courses in their region.

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

You can only take one speed-awareness course in a three-year period, which is one year less than the amount of time the penalty points would last on your driving licence. If you’re not sure when you took your last course you can check on the NDORS website.

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 online. You’ll receive a confirmation email with details and how to get to the location if you’re attending a course in person.

For online courses, you can book the course as normal, but you'll get an email giving you the details of how to join a virtual meeting. You're not allowed to have anyone else in the room with you while you're taking the course.

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 – so the trainer can make sure it’s really you. You’ll also need your driving licence number, which is usually found on your license.

If you’re attending an online course, you’ll need:

  • A desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone with a working microphone and camera 
  • A reliable internet connection that’s capable of streaming video 
  • A quiet place to take the course with no distractions for around three hours.

You're not permitted to take pictures during the course or record any of the material. 

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 for any reason, you should be able to reschedule – as long as it’s within the enforcement period stated in your letter from the police.

Will taking a speed-awareness course affect my car insurance?

Potentially. Taking a speed-awareness course could increase the cost of your car insurance, as your insurance provider may recognise you have a history of speeding and see you as posing a greater risk. But on the other hand, having a speeding conviction and points on your licence could have an even greater impact on your premium – so a course may end up saving you money. 

The police and NSAC course provider won’t inform your insurance provider if you need to go on a speed-awareness course, but you may need to tell them. You won’t legally have to tell your insurance company you’ve taken the course unless they ask you.

Be truthful: if you’re caught out in a lie it could invalidate your policy. Check your policy to see if your current provider asked you about taking a speed-awareness course – if so, you should contact them to let them know if your situation has changed.  

Find out more about how speed-awareness courses can affect your car insurance.

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