Speed kills and we must educate and penalise lawbreakers but is it best to take the three points or go for the National Speed Awareness Courses that are offered. Suffolk Village Info examines the situation based on recent experience.
Around two million motorists were charged with speeding each year from 2016 to 2018 according to figures collated from the Home Office.
The scope of these statistics expanded in 2016 to include instances where people chose to go on speed awareness courses rather than accept a fine and points on their licence and no or little effect on insurance premiums
Consequently in 2016 close to 50% of drivers caught speeding chose to take the speed awareness route and we believe this to be similar for 2017 to 2019 if not more.
Suffolk Village Info Managing Director Ian Duncan wants to share his recent experience of going on the speed awareness course after stupidly being caught going 69 miles an hour on the A14 over the Orwell Bridge back in the spring.
I was absolutely gutted because we all think we are good careful drivers, better than we really are and I am no different. I was offered £100 fine and 3 points on my licence or no points and a four hour speed awareness course for £90. I had been on a similar course about 10 years ago and really learnt something from it.
I passed my driving test when I was 17 nearly 48 years ago and driving and laws have changed quite dramatically over the years and so have the cars we drive. My view was, and still is, if we can learn something that is going to help us become more knowledgeable on any subject you should do it so I decided to go down the Speed Awareness course route again.
The course was hosted at the Denny Brothers Conference Centre on the new business park which is an excellent venue.
“The one thing you have to realise is that nobody wants to be there, you feel bad enough that you are all guilty”.
“People watching” as the attendees arrived in the foyer was quite special, all sharing the same feelings of embarrassment, apprehension, remorsefulness, shame, awkwardness, guilt-ridden and uncomfortable, most having never been in this type of situation before.
The make-up of the eclectic group was equally balanced male/female but curiously an age group of mid-thirties upward with exception of one young lady. All from a cross section of lifestyles
While waiting we managed to lighten the mood with a few quips, we even tried to list a few song titles that related to the situation like “Guilty” by the Bee Gees, “Jailhouse Rock” by Elvis, “Jailbreak” by Thin Lizzy and “Regrets” by Jay Z.
We were in a positive mood at this stage still not really wanting to be there, worried that we were going to lose four hours of our life because of a stupid mistake. Most of the group as being clocked at between 31 and 35 miles per hour in a 30 limit.
There were initially 24 people on the course, one was dispatched because he wasn’t on the register and another arrived mid-course and wasn’t allowed in, so 23 of us were greeted by the Course Trainers.
I say greeted, but that is not really how it was. I am not going to name names here because they might just have been having a bad day, I will protect their privacy for this article and will refer to them as Paul and Ringo. Paul, I would say, was around mid 40’s whilst Ringo was in his early 60’s.
Our first contact with the trainers was a negative comment from Paul: “Come on cheer up we have a real grumpy bunch here!”
His colleague was dealing with the registration. Ringo in my opinion was just brusque and in some way just downright rude.
Paul introduced the course but constantly told us how we were paying his pension and paying for his holidays. They told us that they were both lorry drivers and driving instructors in the past.
Ringo kept on regaling about his advanced driving expertise. The main point of the course was to be interactive but when we did ask questions or comment on a particular point that they were trying to put over it was put down or ignored.
The overall impression was that as we had been convicted of speeding we were all bad drivers and our opinions didn’t count. The trainers were condescending, obnoxious and patronising, seemingly just wanting to belittle the attendees.
Due to the complex make-up of the group there were people who had never been in a situation like this since their school days, some will react, some will try to lighten the mood with a joke or some will just stay quiet.
The climax to the situation was in the second half when Paul, reacting to one of the comments from the floor lost his temper and basically imploded.
“Right that’s it, I am so angry with you all, this is the 9th course I have done this week and you are the worse people I have dealt with, you are so negative why don’t you just accept what we are telling you is right”. Ringo carried on muttering under his breath.
It was really unbelievable, I wanted to get up and leave right away as did many others but there would have been consequences in that not completing the course would mean a £100 fine plus 3 points.
It took the youngest member of the group to calm the situation with a well measured put down to everybody in the room.
Following this intervention the mood changed and trainers had lost any respect and words like “unbelievable” reverberated around the room.
Following the intervention from the young lady Ringo really did try to improve the situation and even he seemed embarrassed. Interaction between us was reduced as many of the attendees just turned off.
Maybe nine courses for these trainers was too much for them in one week. It is obviously as stressful for them as it was for us. As far as the course is concerned the content is excellent but the delivery was awful.
All drivers in my opinion should attend a course to update and improve their driving skills but not just because they have been caught speeding. Maybe regular courses like this would reduce the convictions but how with less convictions would Paul be able to supplement his pension and be able to pay for his holidays.