Speed awareness courses

Making converts not criminals out of errant drivers

Educating drivers, riders and pedestrians about road safety risks will have more effect than heavy handed prosecutions

Educating drivers, riders and pedestrians about road safety risks will have more effect than heavy handed prosecutions

Educating drivers, riders and pedestrians about road safety risks will have more effect than heavy handed prosecutions, according to the AA president who gave the keynote speech to police chiefs at the TISPOL* European Road Safety Conference in Manchester.

Improvements to vehicle safety and the road network have helped keep casualties down but all road users have a vital role to play as ‘human error’ or ‘failed to look’ are factors in the majority of crashes.

UK taking the lead

In some respects the UK has taken the lead in trying to re-educate drivers and riders.

The UK is unique as the police offer a number of awareness courses to drivers who have committed a road traffic offence or have been involved in an ‘at fault’ collision.

Courses are offered nationwide as part of the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS).

Free voluntary charity courses

As well as supporting and providing post-offence awareness courses, the AA has offered free voluntary charity courses to tens of thousands of drivers whose lack of confidence or understanding placed them in jeopardy of breaking the law and endangering other road users.

Speed awareness

The most common police course is on ‘speed awareness’. New research from an AA-Populus poll of 29,660 drivers in August shows that 14% of drivers in the past three years have attended a course – on a national scale this equates to approximately 4.5m drivers.

  • Males were slightly more likely to have attended (15% compared to 12% females).
  • Older drivers over 55yrs were more likely to have attended (15%) than younger drivers (6% for 18-24 yr olds, 11% 25-34 yr olds).
  • Drivers in the North East and Wales (19%) were most likely to have attended a course.
  • Of those that had attended a course 87% were likely to recommend it to someone else with any opportunity to attend.
  • 77% still think it is acceptable for the police to use speed cameras to identify vehicles involved in speeding offences.

The fact that almost 90% of those that have been on a speed awareness course would recommend it is a great endorsement

Edmund King, AA president

Education is more effective than prosecution

Edmund King, AA president, told the conference: “The UK has taken the lead in trying to re-educate errant drivers. We believe that education is more effective than prosecution as it produces converts rather than criminals. The fact that almost 90% of those that have been on a speed awareness course would recommend it is a great endorsement. Perhaps contrary to popular opinion 77% of our members accept the use of cameras.

“AA DriveTech provides speed awareness courses and also offers a host of other police awareness courses from seat belts to mobile phones and courses for motorcycle riders and cyclists.”

Educational awareness campaigns

King also outlined how educational awareness campaigns can help to protect vulnerable road users. Campaigns such as the AA Charitable Trust’s “Think Bikes” sticker campaign using a video of a naked cyclist and social media (#thinkbikes) can help raise awareness of vital road safety messages and educate road users.

One of the best safety records

The UK has one of the best road safety records in the world yet 1,775 people still died last year. The police identified ‘failed to look properly’ as a factor in 44% of crashes and ‘loss of control’ as a factor in a third (32%) of fatal crashes. Better education of drivers and riders can radically help to cut this carnage.


(7 October 2015)

*TISPOL The TISPOL European traffic police network organisation was established in 2000 by the traffic police forces of Europe in order to improve road safety and law enforcement on the roads of Europe.

The 2015 TISPOL European Road Safety Conference (6-7 October) focussed on the challenge of reducing the risk to vulnerable road users including cyclists and the elderly.