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Tips and advice

Speed awareness course: what to expect and who’s eligible?

Taking a speed awareness course could spare you points on your licence and a hefty fine – here’s what you need to know

Police car - open boot

If you’re caught speeding, in some cases you could be offered a speed awareness course, sparing you from a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) and points on your driving licence. The course is designed to remind drivers of the dangers of speeding and the importance of abiding by the law, in an effort to reduce the likelihood of reoffending.

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While the majority of us don’t intend to break the speed limit, a momentary lapse in concentration is all it takes to be caught out. Combined with an increasing prevalence of speed cameras and new 20mph limits in many urban areas, it’s more important than ever before for drivers to pay attention to their speed. We have a complete guide to UK speed limits if you’re unsure of the law.

What is a speed awareness course?

The speed awareness course is a short programme designed to refresh your knowledge of the potential dangers of speeding and the possible consequences of going too fast. The session will cover the Highway Code and best practices for remaining safe on the road. It can be a useful exercise to improve your attitude towards safe driving and learn about updates and changes to the rules you may not be aware of.

Speed awareness courses are run by independent companies, so each differs slightly from the next. Depending on the provider, you may be able to choose between an in-person or virtual course.

Am I eligible for a speed awareness course?

If you’ve been caught speeding, you’ll only be eligible for a speed awareness course if it’s your first offence, or three years have passed since you last took the course. Additionally, there are set speeds that qualify for a speed awareness course, so if you were caught speeding above this threshold, you won’t be given the option of a course. It’s also at the discretion of the police force involved, so you won’t always be offered the option.

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Your options will be outlined in the letter you receive informing you that you’ve been caught speeding. You will have the option to pay the fine and take the points, go to court to settle it, or take a speed awareness course if you’re eligible.

Speeding camera

The amount by which you can break the speed limit and still be eligible to take a speed awareness course is between 10% of the speed limit plus 2mph, to 10% of the limit plus 9mph. However, this is dependent on the specific rules set out by the prosecuting police force. You can use the table below as a guide.

Speed limit

Limit to be offered a speed awareness course

20mph

24mph to 31mph

30mph

35mph to 42mph

40mph

46mph to 53mph

50mph

57mph to 64mph

60mph

68mph to 75mph

70mph

79mph to 86mph

How often can you take a speed awareness course?

You can only take a speed awareness course once every three years. As a result, not every driver caught speeding will be offered the chance to take a speed awareness course – if you do commit another speeding offence within three years of taking the course, you will automatically receive a fine and points on your licence.

On top of that, not all police forces subscribe to the programme, so you may not be offered one at all. 

How much does a speed awareness course cost?

Different police forces across the UK use different organisations to provide the speed awareness course, and each charge a different amount. The cheapest in the country are just over £70, while the most expensive are nearly £100. Some providers may let you pay the course fee in instalments.

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This is roughly the same as the standard Fixed Penalty Notice you’d receive for a speeding ticket (currently £100), but if you take the speed awareness course you won’t receive any points on your licence (a minimum of three points). Points on your licence usually results in a more expensive insurance premium, so taking the speed awareness course will almost always be the cheaper option.

What should I expect from a speed awareness course?

Speed awareness courses are designed to explore why you were speeding in the first place, and reduce the likelihood of you speeding in future. It will include information about stopping distances, aims to improve your awareness of your surroundings, and helps you work out the speed limit of an unfamiliar road. It will also touch on the possible consequences of speeding, and ideally aid in your defensive driving abilities. Think of it as an advanced driving course, because you should find information learned from the session helpful on future drives.

Exactly what happens on a speed awareness course will vary slightly between different areas of the country. The courses are run by a number of independent companies, including the AA. Although there’s no exam to pass, you have to display a ‘positive attitude’ throughout the course and contribute to group discussions, even if the course is online.

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Remember to take a form of photo ID with you (ideally a driving licence, or two alternate forms), and make sure you arrive at least 15 minutes before the course starts. You must attend the full duration of the course and, once completed, the course provider will notify the police that you’ve attended and you won’t face any further action.

Can I take a speed awareness course online?

Depending on the company running your speed awareness course, you may be offered to join an online session. All speed awareness courses moved online during the Covid-19 pandemic, so you had to join a video call to participate, but many have since reverted to in-person. Generally, if you’re offered a course, you should probably prepare yourself for having to take it in person.

How long does a speed awareness course take?

Most courses currently state a time of around 2 hours and 45 minutes, with some time for a break in the middle of the session. If you’re offered an online course, these may take a little less time. Courses take place throughout the week but also during the evenings and weekends, so you won’t necessarily have to take time off work to attend.

Can a speed awareness course affect your car insurance?

This is a slightly grey area. While any speeding convictions and points must legally be declared to your insurance company (or any potential insurer when getting quotes), it’s down to the insurer to ask whether you’ve taken a speed awareness course. While this is information many online comparison sites don’t require you to provide, some insurance companies do ask this question when you take out cover. If they ask, you are legally obligated to inform them about it, or else risk invalidating your policy.

It’s a sensible idea to go through your policy carefully to determine if this is an area your premium provider asked about when you took out your insurance. If it was, you should contact them and inform them you’ve taken the course. Do be aware that some companies will increase your insurance premium if they learn you’ve taken a speed awareness course. Despite the fact that you’ve not received any points on your driving licence, it's likely they’ll view you as more of an insurance risk than a driver who has not been caught speeding.

Frequently Asked Questions
If you don’t complete the course in a satisfactory way (quitting the workshop before it finishes or not actively participating), then you may fail the course. If this happens you’ll have to take the points or be summoned to court. It’s also highly unlikely that you’ll be refunded the cost of the course.

Driving made simple...

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Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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