London, 28 Mar 2004.
For immediate release.

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Training in Place of Licence Points Welcome
but Courses May Have Dubious Content and Target the Wrong Drivers
It has recently been announced that drivers convicted of speed limit offences will have the option of taking a "speed awareness" course instead of receiving points on their licence.
 
The ABD welcomes this policy as a step in the right direction, but urges the government to ensure that the new scheme gives proper training in observation and hazard awareness. Some local schemes of this nature have simply been preaching the evils of exceeding the speed limit, missing out on the vital skills drivers need to stay safe.
 
Any road user training is of course welcome, but the ABD fears that many of the drivers most in need of training may be left out.
 
ABD Road Safety Spokesman Mark McArthur-Christie said:
"Those convicted at dangerously high speeds are high risk drivers who need training - however, these make up a very small proportion of speeding convictions. Research shows that the second fastest group of drivers are acually the safest. With current speed limit setting and enforcement policy, these safe drivers are the most likely to be caught on camera and account for most of the three million convicted each year".
McArthur-Christie elaborated:
"For decades, road safety experts have known that the safest drivers are those who naturally set their speed closest to the '85th percentile' for the road, i.e. that speed below which 85% of drivers would travel in free flowing traffic. This is why government guidelines recommend speed limits should be set around this level. Risk increases for drivers who travel faster than this, but those who naturally set their speeds at lower levels also show higher risk levels. As nonsensical speed camera guidelines only allow camera placement where speed limits are set too low - well below the 85th percentile level, the vast majority of those convicted and attending these courses will be amongst the safest group of drivers".

Some enlightened councils such as East Sussex have been targeting hazard awareness training courses at those drivers found to be at fault in accidents and those convicted of 'driving without due care and attention' offences with great success.
 
The ABD would like to see far more drivers picked up for 'due care' offences and sent on such courses and for all drivers involved in accidents to receive such training, regardless of blame.
 
According to 'Roadcraft', the police drivers handbook, those who have had one accident are twice as likely to have another within 3 years — those who crashed pulling into the path of another vehicle are 3 times as likely to do so again.
 
The ABD believes this approach would be much more effective, and calls on the Government to divert resources away from speed reduction in favour of finding bad drivers and using training to improve their skills and attitude.
 
ABD Chairman Brian Gregory concludes:
"Catching safe drivers for breaking a badly set speed limits has always been pointless, and has resulted in great animosity towards the police. It has also failed to improve the death toll on Britain's roads. We fear that these courses will be scoped to justify this activity to an increasingly sceptical public rather than to impart anything useful about road safety. Training courses for bad drivers are absolutely the right way to go — but the right drivers must attend them, and the content must make sense."

 

 
Notes for Editors