Increase of drivers opting for Speed Awareness Courses and the misconception of the potential impact on insurance premiums
New government figures show almost a million motorists opted for the Speed Awareness Course over the last year to avoid getting points on their driving licence.
In order to qualify for the Speed Awareness Courses, there are several criteria that need to be met – your speed needs to have been within a specific range. In a 30mph zone, your speed needs to be between 35mph and 42mph, and on motorways, the figure needs to be between 79mph and 86mph.
Motorists are generally ineligible for the Speed Awareness Course if they have taken one in the three years prior to their most recent speeding offence.
The Speed Awareness Course gives the motorist information on the dangers and consequences of speeding and is also aimed at giving them driving tips from an experienced course leader.
RAC technical director, David Bizley said:
“This has to be good news for all those involved as it gives drivers a positive educational benefit, rather than simply adding points to their licences.”
The increase in the number of drivers opting for the Speed Awareness Course can be attributed to both the desire to avoid penalty points and the general belief among motorists that their insurance premiums will not rise as a result of attending the course.
While Speed Awareness Courses constitute an attractive alternative to the prospect of receiving penalty points for motorists committing low-level speeding offences, motorists are urged not to undertake such a course solely on the basis of perceived financial benefit.
Whilst the completion of a Speed Awareness Course is not categorised as a criminal offence, Motorists opting for such courses may be obliged to inform their insurance company or they may run the risk of their policy being invalidated. As such it is conceivable that insurance companies are likely to treat motorists who take the course similarly to those who simply opt for a fine and penalty points. This approach would effectively render the time, effort and cost of undertaking the Speed Awareness Course worthless.
A spokesperson for Admiral Insurance commented on the issue and in a brief statement said:
“Although a speed awareness course is a replacement for penalty points, it does not change the fact that the person involved has committed a speeding offence. Our claims statistics show that drivers who have committed a speeding offence could be a higher risk than drivers who do not commit speeding offences. This means that people attending a speed awareness course are more likely to make a claim and we price these risks accordingly.”
The increase in insurance premiums comes despite assurances from some police forces and councils that attending a speed awareness course does not affect insurance policies.
Admiral’s admission that it considers attending a speed awareness course as information relevant to pricing an accurate premium highlights that the reality of the Speed Awareness Courses’ effect on insurance premiums differs from motorist perceptions.