Motoring group calls for awareness courses for speeding drivers

Speeding car Image copyright Getty Images

Prosecutors are being urged to introduce new road safety programmes to tackle low-level traffic offences and keep offenders out of court.

It comes as the Scottish government's Christmas drink-drive campaign begins.

A leading motoring group has called for drivers caught speeding to be allowed to attend awareness courses rather than face fines or points on their licence.

Such programmes are already in place throughout the UK but are not currently available in Scotland.

They see offenders paying to take part in a speed awareness course involving theory, driver assessment and practical instruction.

'Highly successful'

Motoring campaign organisation, IAM Roadsmart, says the courses have proved highly successful in improving driver behaviour.

Neil Greig, director of policy and research, told BBC Scotland: "We are completely convinced that speed awareness courses make a very positive contribution to road safety.

"There is clear research from England that people who take a speed awareness course are 25% less likely to reoffend in the first year compared to those who are given a speeding ticket and a fine."

He added: "With the conclusive research that we've seen, and the investigations that Police Scotland have been undertaking, there should be no reason for any further delay in providing these courses as an option for Police Scotland."

'Better driver'

Image caption Claire said she benefitted from doing the speeding awareness course in England

Claire Gibson from Ayrshire was caught driving at 48mph in a 40mph zone in Liverpool.

Because the offence was committed in England, Claire was offered the speed awareness course as an alternative to paying a fine.

Claire, who has been driving for 17 years, said: "I always was quite a safe driver, but I think over the years you develop bad habits.

"I definitely think I benefitted from the course - I learned lots and it has changed the way that I have driven since.

"I think it would definitely save a lot of lives in Scotland.

"I would rather pay a fee to learn how to be a better driver, than just pay a fine."

Road traffic offences are often committed by young offenders who have no other involvement with the criminal justice system.

In a report on young people and the criminal justice system, the Inspectorate of Prosecution said the introduction of speed awareness courses in Scotland would address public concern, improve standards of driving and avoid many young people acquiring a criminal record.

It called for new road safety programmes to tackle low-level traffic offences.

'Proposals being considered'

The introduction of speeding awareness courses is under considered in Scotland.

In a joint statement, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and Police Scotland said: "The Lord Advocate granted permission to Police Scotland to commence scoping work on the possible introduction of speed awareness courses as an alternative to prosecution for speeding in Scotland‎.

"Police Scotland's scoping exercise was delayed pending the findings of the Department for Transports evaluation into the impact of the National Speed Awareness Course in England and Wales which was published in May 2018."

The statement said Police Scotland had now concluded its "scoping work" and submitted proposals to the COPFS.

It added: "These proposals are in the process of being considered carefully by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service before a final decision is made on the introduction of speed awareness courses."