Over 250,000 drivers had to attend speed awareness courses in Kent and Medway in 2011 as a result of being caught in the county while speeding. These courses are delivered by Kent County Council Road Safety on behalf of the Kent police.
The KMSCP, Kent and Medway Safety Camera Partnership, says that these courses are being offered to even more people after their research showed that they are way more effective in improving the long term behaviour of drivers on the roads that penalty points or fines.
Katherine Barrett is the communications officer for KMSCP and she has said that at one time the courses were offered only to those drivers who were caught speeding in a 30mph zone. She added that this had now been extended to areas with 40,50,60 and 70mph areas and were for drivers who were caught within the thresholds that were set by the police. It costs £85 to take the course and is the alternative to a £60 fine and 3 points.
“We’re educating not prosecuting, giving motorists a fair chance. Feedback from the courses is hugely positive, with drivers learning potentially life-saving lessons about the dangers of speed and poor driving behaviour,” she said.
KCC Road safety Team Leader Steve Horton said: “By attending a course, drivers have the chance to take something positive from what could have been a negative experience – prosecution. Drivers who attend may significantly cut their chances of being involved in a crash, and of being caught for the same offence in the next two to three years.”
Steve added: “These course provide us with a great opportunity to discuss speed-related issues with drivers – for instance, many drivers would not consider that the place they are most likely to have a 70mph impact would be on an urban or residential road, as opposed to a motorway, or that hitting a pedestrian at 35mph in a 30mph limit could double the chances of killing them. Speed is a key factor in determining the severity of a crash.”
The courses are not an option for those guilty of more serious speeding offences. High speed offenders (eg anyone caught above the threshold) will still either receive points and a fine, or a court summons depending on how much they were over the limit.
The four and a half hour classroom-based courses are run at venues in Ashford, Aylesford, Canterbury, Dartford, Maidstone, Rainham, Rochester, Swanley and Tunbridge Wells. Depending on venue, they run during the day, in the evening and at weekends. They are delivered by staff with professional driver training backgrounds and police do not participate in the course.
Chief Inspector Andy Reeves from Kent Police said: “The course is not a ‘soft option’: motorists can only go on a speed awareness course once every three years and if they are caught speeding again in this time then points and a fine or a court referral will result.”
For more information on speed awareness courses in Kent and Medway visit www.kent.gov.uk/roads_and_transport/road_safety/diversionary_schemes/national_speed_awareness.aspx