Speed awareness course

Speed awareness courses: A complete guide

Last updated July 13th, 2023

If you’re caught speeding, whether by a speed camera or the police, you might receive a speeding fine, penalty points on your licence – or both.

However, in some circumstances, you may be offered the opportunity to attend a speed awareness course instead. Whilst you will have to pay a fee to attend the course, by doing so, you’ll avoid incurring points on your driving licence.

Given that points on your licence can cause your car insurance premiums to rise, you should consider taking a speed awareness course if this is offered to you.

In this guide, we will explain the purpose of speed awareness courses, how much they cost – and what to expect when attending one. We’ll also cover the benefits of choosing a speed awareness course over accepting penalty points – and how points on your licence can affect your car insurance.

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What is a speed awareness course?

Speed awareness courses are designed to help attendees:

  • Identify various speed limits.
  • Drive at safe speeds.
  • Recognise the dangers and consequences of speeding.

What happens on a speed awareness course?

During a speed awareness course, the instructor will present material around important road safety topics such as stopping distances, identifying speed limits on unfamiliar roads – and how to improve awareness of your surroundings.

Speed awareness courses in the UK are delivered by numerous independent companies. Therefore, the topics covered may differ depending on the provider.

However, you will not be tested on any of the course material. The only requirements for completing a speed awareness course are:

  • Attending the course for its full duration.
  • Showing a positive attitude towards speed awareness.

You will also be encouraged to contribute meaningfully to group discussions on the topics raised by your instructor.

How much does a speed awareness course cost?

The cost of a speed awareness course will vary depending on your location, although you will usually pay between £80 and £120.

This is similar to the cost of a standard speeding fine, although by completing a speed awareness course, you will also avoid getting penalty points on your licence.

Some providers allow you to pay the course fee in instalments, which can help to make covering the cost easier.

Is it better to take a speed awareness course over points?

If you accept a speed awareness course, you’ll avoid incurring penalty points on your licence. Therefore, your insurance premiums are unlikely to be affected (unless your policy specifically requires that you declare any speed awareness courses).

However, whilst speed awareness courses aren’t classed as driving convictions (and your licence will remain clean), you shouldn’t simply think of them as a way to avoid points.

After all, they provide useful training that could help you become a safer driver. Therefore, a speed awareness course is almost always the better option.

When do you have the option to take a speed awareness course?

This will depend on the police force, but you will usually be offered a speed awareness course if:

  • The speed you were caught at was within the ‘acceptable range’ (which is usually between the legal limit +10% +2mph - and the legal limit +10% +9mph).
  • You haven’t attended a speed awareness course within the past three years.

What happens if I don’t attend a speed awareness course?

If you can’t attend a course on the date allocated to you, you should contact the provider immediately to set an alternative date.

Without a valid excuse, you can expect to receive a court summons (accompanied by a fine and points on your licence if found guilty).

How does a speed awareness course affect car insurance?

Speeding convictions and points must be declared to your insurance provider. However, the onus is on the insurer to ask whether you’ve taken a speed awareness course.

Many online comparison sites don’t require this information, but some insurance companies do ask this question when you take out cover. You must answer truthfully when asked, otherwise you risk invalidating your policy.

If you attend a speed awareness course, do you have to tell your car insurer?

This will depend on your policy.

Read through your policy documents carefully to determine whether you are required to declare your speed awareness course. If you are, contact your provider immediately.

Your insurer might increase your premium, as you will be viewed as a riskier driver than someone who hasn’t been caught speeding.

Frequently Asked Questions

Speed awareness courses usually run for around four hours, with a break in the middle of the session. (Online speed awareness courses may be slightly shorter.)

Courses take place during the week (but also during the evenings and at weekends, so you won’t necessarily have to take time off work to attend).

Speed awareness courses take place all over the UK. You can choose to take yours at any speed awareness centre. (You aren’t restricted to the area where the speeding offence occurred.)

A speed awareness courses doesn’t include a test, so technically you can’t fail one.

However, as we’ve already mentioned, you are expected to engage positively and take part in discussions. Your instructor may contact the police if they feel that you have failed to meet these requirements.

After attending a speed awareness course, you won’t be offered another for three years.

If you commit another speeding offence within this timeframe, you will have to pay the fine and accept penalty points on your licence. There is no way to get around this; if you have taken a speed awareness course, your details will remain on a database.

Speed awareness courses are run by independent companies that are regulated by the National Driver Offender Retraining scheme - and they work in conjunction with local police forces.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, speed awareness courses in the UK moved online, with drivers attending via video call.

Although lockdown restrictions are no longer in place, some virtual courses are still available. However, in-person courses have now also returned.

No, there is only one type of speed awareness course, which is delivered across the UK by various providers.

You won’t be asked questions in an exam format, but you could be asked to spot hazards on a dashcam journey - or to discuss personal driving experiences.

When attending a speed awareness course, you should bring a form of photo ID with you.