Speeders offered chance to go back to classroom

Friday, 28 May, 2010

Speeding motorists in York and North Yorkshire now have the chance to go back to the classroom to learn about the dangers of speeding as North Yorkshire Police introduce speed awareness courses.

The courses aim to generate a better understanding of the effects and dangers of speeding and offer an alternative to prosecution.

Completing a course could mean that a motorist will avoid having their driving licence endorsed with three penalty points, and instead of paying a fine, the motorist will pay a fee which covers the course cost and running of the scheme.

The option to take a course will be rolled out across the county from 1 June 2010, and will be offered to drivers who commit low-end speeding offences marginally above the speed limit and who meet the eligibility criteria.

Inspector Dave Brown, Head of Strategic Roads Policing at North Yorkshire Police, said: "This course addresses one of the main problems associated with driving over the speed limit, that is the mindset of many drivers and riders who believe that driving a few miles per hour over the limit is acceptable and within their capabilities.

"Try telling that to the pedestrian hit at 37mph in a 30mph limit - that is if they have lived to argue the point - over 50 percent will not. Speeding is against the law, you know when you are speeding, you must be prepared to deal with the consequences.

"Our priority is to reduce the number of casualties on our roads and make them as safe as possible. The courses and our ongoing work with the "95 Alive" York and North Yorkshire Road Safety Partnership, mean we have even more options available to help achieve our aim of safer roads."

Leanne McConnell, Head of Administration of Justice at North Yorkshire Police, added: "This is not a soft option, but an opportunity to change driver and rider behaviour through education. However, drivers can still face prosecution under certain circumstances.

"Speeding remains a major factor in the cause of collisions that result in death or serious injury and the courses present us with an increased opportunity to divert drivers from future offending through education and heightened awareness of risks posed by their driving."

The interactive classroom-based sessions put challenging questions to the participants, asking why people speed, what the consequences might be and, crucially, what they will do differently when they are behind the wheel once they leave the classroom.

The courses are led by road safety specialists from AA DriveTech, a subsidiary of the Automobile Association.

AA DriveTech Managing Director Jim Kirkwood, said: "It's clear, both from academic research and direct feedback from our delegates, that education makes a positive contribution to road safety. We work hard to ensure that our Speed Awareness courses really focus on the reasons why speed control is important, especially in urban areas.

"We never lecture or preach. We're there to inform, advise and support motorists so that they understand the consequences of speeding and why driving just above the speed limit can make a significant difference if there's a crash. In a nutshell, we aim to provide useful and practical guidance to our delegates and therefore make them safer drivers."

Academic research shows that the re-offending rate of course participants over a six-month period was halved compared with drivers who were given a fixed penalty.

Courses will be held at Northallerton and York, although drivers can be referred to a course elsewhere in England and Wales if more convenient.

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