5th January 2017

How driver retraining courses are helping to deal with motoring offences

A recent BBC news article exploring the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) revealed course attendance to be 1.4 million in 2015. While comprehensive reviews as to its efficacy are still underway, it’s clear that driver retraining courses now form a significant part of the regime for dealing with motoring offences.

What are driver awareness courses?
Most police authorities offer courses as an alternative to a fine and penalty points for certain driving offences. Their purpose is to help drivers challenge their attitudes, to make them more aware of their personal responsibilities and, hopefully, change their driving behaviours so as to avoid future accidents. According to NDORS, they are designed by members of the police force, leading behavioural change psychologists and transport and road safety experts.

The courses available are:

  • National Driver Awareness (for motorists involved in minor collisions)
  • National Speed Awareness
  • National RIDE (motorcyclists)
  • National Seat Belt – Your Belt Your Life
  • Driving 4 CHANGE (lack of driving skill)
  • What’s Driving Us? (intentional offences such as running a red light or talking on a mobile)
  • NSAC 20 (the National Speed Awareness Course for 20mph zones)

They range in length from two hours to a whole day. Many are run in classrooms and involve role play, presentations and Q&A. Others have an additional on-road element with an instructor. The National Seat Belt Course can be completed online.

An evaluation conducted in 2011 for ACPO (the former chief police officers’ association, now known as the NPCC), indicated there were “positive changes in attitudes” among motorists who had been on a speed awareness course.

Factors contributing to accidents in the UK
The article outlines the major contributory factors to accidents in 2014. The highest rate of serious accidents (6,689) and overall accidents (50,404) was attributed to the driver ‘failing to look properly’. Exceeding the speed limit caused 254 fatalities and 1,199 serious accidents (overall 5,309), while driving recklessly, or in a hurry, produced 289 fatalities, 3,032 serious accidents (overall 20,430). Many of these factors involved speed or carelessness and perhaps that is why speed awareness is the most heavily subscribed of the courses, with 1.2 million attendees in 2015.

Scale of attendance
Attendance has more than trebled over the last five years, with 2015 seeing over 1.4 million attendees. This exceeded by far the number of motoring offences prosecutions (591,000 in England and Wales in 2014). This growth in courses could have created an administrative burden. However, the booking of courses is supported by an online system that attendees use to book onto a course. The system is built and managed by Civica.