The RAC has reported that the number of drivers sent on offender retraining courses by police forces has reached a record level.
As commercial drivers will know, the retraining courses are sometimes offered as an alternative to points and fines for some traffic infringements and have proved a popular choice. The best-known course is the speed awareness one offered to drivers caught doing a few miles over a speed limit, although there are eight other courses offered.
In 2017 over 1.4 million drivers took courses, the highest number on record according to the RAC Foundation. Of those, over 1.1 million took the speed awareness course so speeding is by far the most common infringement that leads to a course option.
Nearly 100,000 took the ‘What’s Driving Us?’ course in 2017. This looks at driver behaviour and the reasons behind it. It’s offered to drivers involved in a variety of incidents that don’t involve a collision such as using a mobile phone, jumping red lights or generally driving without due care and attention.
Fleet drivers are well aware of the importance of keeping driving infringements to a minimum as they get in the way of doing the job. Motor trade insurance rates go up for convicted drivers and that may be one of the key points behind these record figures as drivers, whether commercial or not, want to keep insurance premiums low. That makes attending a course an excellent alternative.
The RAC Foundation’s director Steve Gooding said that one of the other reasons for the high levels is that driving regulations get more complex all the time. He quoted variable speed limits on motorways and 20 mph zones in towns as recent examples.
He also suggested that there could be more people attending courses in 2018 as the police are expected to step up enforcement of the red ‘X’ signals on overhead motorway signs.
Another probable factor, particularly with speeding offences and jumping red lights, is the increased risk of being caught. Automated cameras are now digital, so they don’t run out of film like the original cameras did, and there are more technical initiatives like the average speed cameras on many trunk roads and motorways throughout the UK.