No Benefit From Speed Awareness Courses

The Department for Transport (DfT) have, after a long delay, published the Ipsos-MORI report that they commissioned into the effectiveness of speed awareness courses. This is the key statement in the Executive Summary: “this study did not find that participation in NSAC [National Speed Awareness Courses] had a statistically significant effect on the number or severity of injury collisions”.

In other words, as the Alliance of British Drivers has repeatedly said, this unethical and legally dubious diversion of drivers to speed awareness courses is primarily about generating money, not about road safety because there is no evidence of any real benefit. Indeed drivers who have attended such courses might be interested in another statement in the report: “the NSAC was not designed to reduce the incidence of collisions”. So what exactly is the objective one might ask as it appears not to be focussed on improving road safety?

Was the study too small to produce statistically significant results? Not exactly because the records of 2.2 million drivers, of whom 1.4 million had accepted a course offer, were studied over a period of 4 years. This data was linked to subsequent speed reoffending and involvement in collisions to produce the report’s conclusions. That’s a large sample.

The only impact they found was that there was a minor reduction in reoffending after involvement in an NSAC, but that is surely hardly surprising because drivers might simply take more care about speeding after being caught for one offence because you cannot be offered a second NSAC within 3 years. Alternatively perhaps some drivers simply go out and purchase a device or software that warns them about cameras.

The report argues that an even bigger study might prove there is some benefit but the proponents of such courses are surely clutching at straws if they think that expense is worthwhile.

Regardless we suggest speed awareness courses should cease to be a money-making industry for ex-police and road safety officers and should only be offered to people who are actually convicted of speeding offences. Otherwise they are just a way to bribe the police to look the other way when an offence is committed (a waiver of prosecution as they call it). That’s corruption and a perversion of justice!

Regrettably the invention by the police of education courses and the associated “waivers of prosecution” has resulted in the financing of ever greater numbers of speed cameras, with empires being built within the police and in commercial organisations that are financed by the cut they get out of the fees paid by course attendees. In reality this diversion of resources from tackling real road safety issues has been detrimental to improving road safety in the UK. Most drivers do not realise that attending a course actually helps to finance more cameras and hence more chance they will face a real prosecution in future for a trivial offence.

The ABD’s campaign against this illegality is documented on this web site which explains the history, the financial arrangements and the evidence of police profiteering: http://www.speed-awareness.org/

The Ipsos-MORI report can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-speed-awareness-course-impact-evaluation

Roger Lawson

(Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmpowABD )

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2 thoughts on “No Benefit From Speed Awareness Courses

  1. You will likely enjoy the comments from Thad Peterson, the retired Michigan State Police command officer who is the greatest traffic safety expert employed by our state in recent years.

    Crashes are random events, and that makes it nearly impossible to develop irrefutable data to show that upwardly correcting speed limits always results in a lower crash rate, or a lower fatality rate.

    That is exactly why in Martin Parker’s massive study he had a few samples that bucked the overall trend, in that the crash rates went UP a tiny amount when the speed limits were raised to the proper level. Overall, the data was very solid in that speed limits lower than the 85th almost always resulted in elevated crash rates, but there were anomalies. Consistently with Parker’s studies, over the past 15 years that Lt. Megge and I have increased hundreds of speed limits across Michigan, our fatality rate has plummeted by around a third.

    Matching that trend of safety improvements to current data, since the speed limit increases from last year’s statutory amendments we effected in concert with Jim Walker, Michigan’s year-to-date fatalities are down by a significant margin. As of May 6th, the reported year-to-date Michigan traffic fatalities were down from 309 in 2017 to 235 in 2018, or about 24%.

    None of these improvements in traffic safety, or the apparent improvement shown by the year-to-date fatality rate reduction are 100% caused by the speed limit changes, far from it. Nor are these data points impervious from having holes punched in them to a degree. For instance, there is a lag in the reporting of fatal crashes at times, due to enhanced investigation efforts into those crashes. But irrespective of any of those issues, the fact is that our Michigan fatality rates have consistently gone DOWN while our speed limits have gone UP to correct, or nearly correct levels.

    I am happy to speak on these issues as my schedule allows, and I thank all of you for your efforts!

    Thad Peterson
    F/Lt. Retired, MSP Traffic Services Section Commander 2004-2013

    Like

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