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Will a speed awareness course affect my insurance?

Education not punishment is the road to better driving

A car going past a speed camera

Gulp! You saw the flash of the speed camera out of the corner of your eye. Now the dreaded letter has arrived. Should you take the points or attend the National Speed Awareness Course instead?

If you opt for the speed awareness course, you won't be alone. Nearly 1.2 million people attended a National Speed Awareness Course in 2016.

So why do some people get the option to attend a speed awareness course, rather than receive an immediate fine and points on their licence?

It's the law

It's mainly down to the nature of the driving offence. The law states that as soon as you exceed the speed limit, you're breaking the law and can be fined. In reality, this is difficult to enforce and may in fact create more of a driving hazard as we all concentrate on not exceeding the limit rather than driving to the conditions of the road.

Consequently, the police service gives a bit of leeway when assessing a speeding motorist. They have developed a set of speeding enforcement guidelines that allow a 10% margin plus 2mph, before they impose a fixed penalty notice.

So, if you drive at 35mph in a 30mph zone, you'll probably receive a fixed penalty notice or an invitation to a speed awareness course. If you drive at 50mph in a 30mph zone, you'll receive a court summons.

Be aware that these guidelines are just a guide. If a police officer believes you are driving dangerously or you have a previous speeding conviction, they have the authority to issue a fine even if you're not exceeding the guideline limits.

When you get caught speeding what are your options?

If you've been caught speeding just over the speed limit and this is your first offence, you'll probably be offered the chance to take a speed awareness course.

Alternatively, you can pay a fine and take points on your licence. The minimum penalty for speeding is a £100 fine and three points on your licence. If you rack up over 12 points in three years, you could be disqualified from driving.

If you're caught driving at excessive speed, driving dangerously, or you have a previous speeding conviction, your fine and the number of points on your licence could be increased to reflect the severity of the offence. You could even end up in court.

If you rack up over 12 points in three years, you could be disqualified from driving.

Why choose the speed awareness course?

If we're honest, probably the main motivation for choosing to take part in the speed awareness course is that we then don't have to pay the fine or accept points on our licence.

Having points on your licence will increase your car insurance costs and speeding convictions stay on your record for at least four years.

But, the speed awareness course is not free. Courses are run by instructors approved by the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme and cost around £100.

However, at the end of the course, you should have a better understanding of the impact of driving at speed and how defensive driving gives you more time to assess the road ahead.

Being a safer driver can lead to fewer accidents. And if you don't need to claim on your insurance from one year to the next, you could benefit from protecting your no claim discount.

Do you need to tell your insurer if you go on a speed awareness course?

Insurers have a wide range of criteria they use to assess the cost of your car insurance, so it's best to check with your provider.

There's no need to tell LV= that you're going on a speed awareness course, or that you've already attended one.

We only need to know if you've received points on your licence for a motoring conviction or fixed penalty notice.

What happens on a speed awareness course?

The course is designed to encourage you to drive responsibly within safe speed limits. It usually lasts for about four hours.

This may sound a bit dull, but in fact the majority of people who take the course praise the experience and say they've learnt something new.

You don't need to take an exam at the end, but there may be some 'icebreaker' type questions about the highway code. Now when was the last time you looked at that!

Your details are kept on a database held by the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme and if you're caught speeding again within three years of taking a speed awareness course, you're quite likely to receive a fine and penalty points straightaway.

You'll only be invited to take a speed awareness course if you haven't been on one in the past three years.

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