Nearly 18,000 speeding drivers in Suffolk take awareness courses

Detective Inspector Chris Hinitt from the Roads and Armed Policing Team Picture: SUFFOLK POLICE

Detective Inspector Chris Hinitt from the Roads and Armed Policing Team Picture: SUFFOLK POLICE - Credit: Archant

Almost 18,000 drivers took a speed awareness course in Suffolk last year - paying out a total of around £1.6million.

Suffolk Police have stressed the vital role of the courses in preventing serious accidents, and denied they are a “money-making scheme”.

Altogether, 17,925 motorists committing speeding offences in the county took part in courses during 2018, as an alternative to fines and penalty points. The figure is slightly lower than the 19,255 who attended in 2016.

A total of 23,576 motorists were offered the option of taking a course, run by the Suffolk Roadsafe Partnership together with the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme. This means 76% accepted the option, although the average take-up figure over the last few years is 83%.

Detective Inspector Chris Hinitt, of Norfolk and Suffolk Roads and Armed Policing Team, said: “It’s a bit disappointing that only three in four drivers who are offered the course are doing it. I do believe it is a day well-spent and makes you think about how you are driving.

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“My day-to-day job is dealing with fatal and serious collisions, and if you are going slower you are not going to be hurt as badly.

“The course doesn’t preach. It’s about trying to educate people, and does help to change driver behaviour.”

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The current charge for a course is £90 in Suffolk. Half goes to pay for the course, with £45 being returned to the Safety Camera Partnership. This then funds administrative and running costs of the partnership (including staffing costs), making it self-sustainable.

Some drivers caught speeding in Suffolk take courses in other areas, where charges can vary.

Det Insp Hinitt said: “I know a lot of people think it’s a money-making scheme for the police, but it’s not. The money goes to the Road Safety Camera Partnership, and we don’t get anything directly through. There is absolutely no incentive to any officers to get sign-ups.”

The course is only available to motorists whose speeding offences are at the lower end, and you can’t take a second course within three years. He said the courses pointed out things which could increase the risk of drivers speeding, such as “beating the satnav.”

“People see that the satnav is predicting they will get somewhere by a certain time, and then try to get there before that.”

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