The year 2017 saw a record 1.4 million drivers attending road awareness courses, with 1.2 million of these needing to take part in retraining because they were caught speeding, which has been shown in data from the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS).
The Road Awareness course
NDORS is unique to the UK and is a scheme offered to those who have been caught committing a driving offence, such as speeding, which they can then complete to avoid having points added to their licence and having to pay a fine.
This is down to the discretion of the local Chief Constable and not all motorists will necessarily be offered the chance to complete the course, but those who do will be able to take part and complete a re-education which will remind them of driving laws in order to help achieve greater compliance.
Drivers who complete the course do not ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ and the aim of the courses is to prevent people from reoffending in the future, and to make them safer while they are using the roads. These courses are not suitable for those who have committed high risk offences and nobody has the right to be offered the chance to take part.
Once a road awareness course has been completed the driver’s details are kept on a database for three years, and if the same offence is committed during this time they will not be allowed to take the course again and will have to accept a points penalty and a fine.
Is there any sign of change?
With the number of attendees across all 9 retraining courses increasing by 2% year on year this suggests that people are breaking driving laws more often rather than becoming more aware of how they should be driving.
The director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation believes that 2018 will see even more drivers having to take road awareness courses due to the introduction of smart motorways across the country. This is because there are plenty of smart motorway rules which motorists have already been breaking, to the point where 80,000 warning letters have been sent out since December 2016 with many targeted at those caught driving in a lane with a red X above it.
The past year has also seen an increase in the amount of money that the police receive for each person who attends one of these courses, which has risen from £35 to £45 per driver. This money is given to reimburse the force for the expense of catching speeding motorists and totals £54 million each year.
‘Greatly different between constabularies’
However, the number of drivers sent on road awareness courses differs greatly between constabularies, so not all police forces are benefitting from these reimbursements. For example, the Avon and Somerset police force sent 80,235 people onto these courses whereas Wiltshire saw absolutely no attendees despite being right nextdoor to Avon and Somerset.
Offenders who have decided to take the course can choose to attend wherever they like and do not have to return to the place where their offence was committed, however the correct amount of money from their attendance will go to the police force from where they were caught.
It is not only the number of road awareness course attendees that differs by area, but the amount that it costs to complete the course too. An individual sent on a speed awareness course in Northamptonshire will pay £75 whereas someone attending the same course in Essex will spend £99, which is 32% more expensive.
These figures may not necessarily be surprising as we are often hearing that more people are being caught for offences such as speeding and using a mobile phone behind the wheel, but these road awareness courses could work to deter people from re-offending, especially when they want to avoid getting points on their licence or paying a fine.
Have you ever been on a road awareness course? Do you think they are a better solution than points and a fine? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.