If we are all brutally honest, we can probably all put our hands in the air and say that we have driven in excess of the prescribed speed limit at some stage in our driving career, even if it were just for a split second or by accident. Unfortunately though, a split second is all it takes to be caught. With technology allowing Police Officers to target a car ¼ mile away, or average speed cameras springing up on ‘Smart Motorways’, technology is certainly on the side of the law and hundreds of thousands of drivers are being caught every year breaking the law in this way.

If you are unfortunate enough to be caught speeding and informed in the post of the offence and sent a Notice of Intended Prosecution, a NIP, (rather than being caught at the roadside whereby you can attempt to use your charms or negotiating powers to wiggle out of a punishment), you may be offered a chance to pay for, and attend, a Speed Awareness Course instead.

However, these courses are not guaranteed. If you are a repeat offender, you will have to take the points or attend court. If the offence was well in excess of the legal limit, you won’t be offered the chance either. But drivers with a previously clean record, and who weren’t exceeding the limit by a huge margin, will probably be offered the chance to duck points and a fine on this occasion.

If you are offered the choice of taking the course instead of the points and a fine, you have a week or two to decide. For smaller speeding offences, fixed penalties have increased as from April of this year and can often land you with 3 points on your licence too, which may affect your insurance premium.

Courses take place up and down the country and you don’t necessarily have to sit the course in the county where you committed the offence.

Of those who have attended, and many people have (1.2 million in 2015 alone!), many report that the course did change their attitude to driving. The course itself is an informal affair normally lasting half a day or so, and normally has a ‘facilitator’ who uses various media to create awareness of why speed limits exist, and the dangers of exceeding them.

With U.K roads some of the safest in Europe to drive on, it could be argued that this ‘softly softly’ approach by using education over punishment, is indeed working. But every death or accident on U.K roads is one too many. So, to avoid having to choose between points or the course, we’d probably suggest that you don’t speed in the first place…