The Number Of Motorists Taking Driver Awareness Courses Has Tripled

The Number Of Motorists Taking Driver Awareness Courses Has Tripled

New figures from  National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) have revealed that the number of motorists taking driver awareness courses has tripled since 2010…

Getting Aware

Just shy of 1.5 million drivers took a driver awareness course last year. That’s a three-fold increase on number recorded in 2010. Exactly 1,492,236 people took a course in 2019 and 1,282,698 specifically took speed awareness courses. The remainder participated in the eight other categories of course, which cover everything from mobile phone use to seatbelts. Only 467,601 people took these courses in 2010. Figures have actually risen every year since, barring in 2016 when there was a slight decrease. On average, 4,000 people a day opt to pay up to £95 and invest four hours in the courses rather than face penalty points. 

One of the more recent courses made available concerns smart motorways. Motorists are instructed in the correct use of the road format; including variable speed limits and red ‘x’ signage denoting closed lanes. Whilst the number of motorists taking driver  awareness courses overall has increased, some courses have seen declining numbers. For instance, the course concerning seat belts only had 12,417 participants in 2019. That’s down from 30,318 in the previous year. 

What’s Going On?

It’d be easy to infer from the NDORS figures that poor driving is simply becoming more prevalent. But it also comes down to enforcement and the priorities of police forces. It’s worth considering that its down to the discretion of local authorities whether drivers are offered the option of taking a driver awareness course in the first place; it’s not a given. There’s also the possibility that some courses are simply being prioritised over others. It’s unlikely, for instance, that the decline in seat belt course participants is the result of a sudden realisation of the safety implications. It’d be interesting to see how many drivers were offered courses in 2010 compared with today. That’d present a clearer picture of what’s going on. 

Regardless of what’s behind the increase, driver awareness courses are controversial. They’ve been criticised as a money-making exercise for local authorities. In addition, questions have been raised as to how effective the courses are in correcting poor driving behaviours. After all, it’s unlikely that most drivers are unaware of the risks of excessive speeding and not wearing a seatbelt. It’s often the case that the dangers are understood and are simply ignored or overlooked. 

It may sound cynical, but it’s likely that in many cases driver awareness courses are just seen as a way of avoiding responsibility. A minor driving offence will entail three penalty points. That leaves a driver in possession of their vehicle and their license; with plenty to think about and every reason to improve. Should we really have a way out of them other than by driving safely? 

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