More Accidents After Doing Speed Awareness Course

The Guardian have published an article on speed awareness courses and the fact that some insurers will increase your premium if you report that you have been on one. For example, Admiral increased a quote by £50 apparently.

Even more interesting is the statement that “Admiral says its data shows that drivers who attend a speed awareness course are more likely to have an accident in the following 12 months than those who committed no offence”.

If that is true then it undermines the whole rationale for the speed camera and speed awareness industry. To remind you, more than a million drivers attend such courses each year now, with major profits going to the police, course operators and UK ROED Ltd who run the programme. See for the evidence.

Is it possible that attending a speed awareness courses makes drivers over confident because they think they “know it all”? Or perhaps they spend more time looking at the speedometer than keeping their eyes on the road? Of course, there could be other explanations, and I will ask Admiral for some more information on their evidence.

Note that the Department for Transport (DfT) have commissioned a study which is due to report later this year on the effectiveness of speed awareness courses. Let us hope that it will provide hard evidence. There have been previous studies of these courses but these have primarily been “attitudinal surveys” taken of those who have attended a course. They generally report positive changes, probably because folks don’t like to admit they wasted a day of their time and the questions posed could be “leading” ones. Other feedback is patchy – for example listen to one member of the public rubbishing the course he attended on a recent BBC radio programme here:

It should of course be possible to track the accident records (either from police reports or accident claims) of drivers before and after attendance. That would provide the hard evidence. But even if proven, it would not make the offer of such courses legal. In the meantime, nobody involved in the running of these courses seems to want to examine the facts.

The Guardian article is present here:

Roger Lawson

1 thought on “More Accidents After Doing Speed Awareness Course

  1. Postscript: I exchanged emails with a person at Admiral who confirmed the Guardian story. This is what she said: “Our premiums and rates are based on our claims experience and our claims statistics show that drivers who have committed a speeding offence could be a higher risk than drivers who do not commit speeding offences. In fact, drivers who commit a speeding offence and then take a Speed Awareness Course are more likely to have an accident in the next 12 months than drivers who have not committed a speeding offence in the first place. This means that people attending a speed awareness course are more likely to make a claim and we price these risks accordingly.

    However while customers who have attended a speed awareness course are a higher risk than customer who have not committed a speeding offence, they are lower risk than those who have an SP30 with points for their offence and are priced accordingly. A speed awareness course will impact the premium, but shouldn’t impact it as much as an SP30 endorsement would.”.

    And my response was: “Thanks for that information, but it does suggest that attending a speed awareness course does not provide any benefit to the driver in terms of improving their risk profile, otherwise their accident risk would be no different to those who have not committed an offence. Instead it rather suggests that drivers caught speeding and who subsequently attend a speed awareness course have a psychological profile that matches risky behaviour, and hence accidents, and that speed awareness courses have little or no impact.

    Changing ingrained behaviour, possibly from years of bad driving habits, by giving people a short course is surely very unlikely to work.

    Hence your justification for higher premiums for such drivers no doubt.

    Those who have an SP30 with points are likely to be even higher risks because they probably were going so fast, or had offended repeatedly, that they could not be offered a speed awareness course.”

    I shall write to the new Minister of State for Policing, Nick Hurd, and point out the lunacy of the current policy which imposes major costs on motorists but no obvious benefit in terms of road safety.

    Roger Lawson


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