The National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme runs the National Speed Awareness Course (NSAC). The NSAC is a half-day course focusing on speed awareness that is offered to low-level speeders in lieu of 3 points and a fine. Over a million people do the NSAC a year.
Low-level speeding means getting a ticket for a speeding offence in an area with a fixed speed limit of 30-70mph. The usual boundaries are 10% plus 2mph to 10% plus 9mph of the posted legal limit at the time. I.e. 35-42mph in a 30mph zone, 57-64mph in a 50mph zone or 79-86mph in a 70mph zone. This does vary slightly depending on which police force issued the ticket.
The course costs around £90 (depending on the location) rather than take 3 points and a £100 fine. You can only take one every three years so if you get caught within that time you have to suck it up and accept the points and fine.
What happens on a speed awareness course?
The course will be held in a classroom. There could be 20 or more other motorists in the same room. The course curriculum is intended to teach the consequences of speeding, how speed limits are determined and identified, and how to choose an appropriate speed and hazard perception.
The classroom session is interactive – you don’t sit and watch a presentation. The content could vary depending on the backgrounds of the people attending. There’s no test to sit at the end and, as long as you participate in the course, completing it to the trainer’s satisfaction, you’ll pass the course.
If you can’t attend due to illness then you may be able to rebook the course; if you don’t show up then it’s likely it will be referred back to police and you’ll get a Conditional Offer of Fixed Penalty.
If you have contested the speeding fine because you weren’t the driver or you don’t believe you were speeding, then you will not be able to do the course.
How do you take the course?
If you are eligible for a course, police will notify you. You can then book the course online using your driver licence number. When you attend the course you’ll need to bring photo ID like your driving licence or passport.
You must take the course no longer than 12 weeks after the speeding offence occurred and you must not have been stopped for a further offence in the interim.
Does the National Speed Awareness Course work?
Many insurance companies will increase your premium if you tell them you attend a speed awareness course, despite the fact that the course means you don’t get a conviction for an offence. Statistically, people who have committed a speeding offence are more likely to make an at-fault claim on their insurance policy.
But, if the course was effective this should not be the case: people that do the course should come out of it with a greater appreciation of picking an appropriate speed and therefore should be safer drivers.
Insurance companies can’t find out that you have completed a speed awareness course unless you admit to it. You should check your insurance policy fine print to find out whether you need to notify the insurance company and what any implications of not notifying them might be.
You are likely to get less of an increase from your insurance company from notifying them that you’ve done a speed awareness course than you are if you take the points and the fine.
If your insurance company asks you if you have been convicted of a motoring offence and you have only ever done a speed awareness course, you can answer no. If they ask you if you have attended a speed awareness course then you should answer yes because insurance companies will require you to make an honest statement of your driving history so that they can more accurately assess risk.