Where All the Money from Speed Awareness Courses Went in 2017

UK ROED, the company which operates the NDORS driver education scheme, recently published its accounts to the end of March 2018. UK ROED Ltd is owned by (i.e. is a subsidiary of) a charity named The Road Safety Trust, another company which published accounts to the same date. What do these accounts tell us about the massive slush fund that is being operated in the name of road safety?

UK ROED Ltd had income of £61.6 million from fees received, from which £55.9 million was paid to the police. That’s up from £47.5 million paid to the police in the previous year. Those fees are allegedly to cover the police’s administration costs but are in reality used to fund expansion of speed camera operations and other unrelated costs that have nothing much to do with road safety – see information on our web site here about that: https://www.speed-awareness.org/

Of the £61.6 million in income, only £1.8 million was paid over to The Road Safety Trust – down from £3.1 million in the previous year). That charity spent £1.3 million on charitable activities which mainly comprise funding of research activities. These are no doubt worthy activities. But the surplus of £485,000 was retained. This resulted in the assets it held increasing to £4.4 million. In other words, this is not only a charity that does not spend all of its income, but it is also building up a very substantial financial asset figure which is not normally perceived as acceptable for charities.

UK ROED Ltd had £3.8 million of “administrative expenses” but only £764,000 was spent on staff salaries and pensions. It is not obvious where the difference was spent.

In addition to the £61.6 million that passes through the UK ROED accounts there are the fees received by the speed awareness course operators. One of the largest course operators is TTC 2000 Ltd whose accounts to December 2017 showed revenue of £26.8 million and profits of £775,000. They run about a third of all speed awareness courses. Based on that information and the fact that average course fees are about £100, it’s reasonable to estimate that total fees paid by the 1.2 million drivers attending courses each year is at least £100 million.

Therefore in total the speed-awareness course system is extracting £100 million from the pockets of road users with no immediate road safety benefit whatsoever and with a trivial proportion (about 1.3%) actually being spent on road safety research or programmes. All the rest goes on expenses including the employment of many ex-police officers.

Bearing in mind that a recently published report from the Department for Transport (DfT) showed there was no “statistically significant effect on the number or severity of injury collisions” from attendance at a speed awareness course (in other words, NO BENEFIT WHATSOEVER), it is very odd that the Government permits the operations of these companies to continue. It would seem they are self-perpetuating and self-governed organisations which are outside of Government control and which consume £100 million of pounds every year of road users’ cash while they have no direct impact on road casualties.

If you wish to support the ABD’s campaign against speed-awareness courses, which are being used to finance ever growing numbers of speed cameras, please register your interest here:  https://www.speed-awareness.org/join.html  

Roger Lawson

(Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmpowABD )

Speed Limit Setting and Road Safety

Traditionally, speed limits in the UK were set at levels that most drivers considered reasonable, and the police enforced them, for the most part, with common sense and flexibility. Unfortunately this is no longer the case.

In the early 1990s’ recession, the government was seeking to reduce public expenditure and the roads budget was seen as a soft target. At the same time, it wanted to be seen as being serious about road safety, so it authorised the use of speed cameras, which were much cheaper than building the new and improved roads the country needed.

The result has been an explosion in automated speed limit enforcement and the creation of an entire industry dependent upon it. In recent years this has been financed largely by the fees paid by those drivers who have been offered, and accepted, a speed awareness course in lieu of a fine and penalty points (see the ABD’s AMPOW campaign for more information on that here: https://www.speed-awareness.org/ ).

In order to maintain a steady and growing income stream, camera enforcement has been targeted increasingly at locations where large numbers of drivers exceed unrealistically low speed limits, rather than where there is a history of speed-related accidents. The decision to prosecute or offer a speed awareness course is based on an arbitrary threshold that applies around the clock, regardless of the degree of danger caused. The reduction in police traffic patrols has removed the human interaction between drivers and traffic officers, who had the ability to assess the seriousness of an offence.

Speed limits have been lowered on the basis of dubious claims that lower average speeds always lead to fewer accidents. The result is that more and more drivers are exceeding these unreasonably low limits, with speed limits everywhere coming into disrepute.

The ABD wants a return to sensible speed limits, sensibly enforced. This will require the banning of enforcement operations financed by the proceeds of those operations, since this distorts priorities. Enforcement should instead be financed by government grants, set at the levels needed to maintain safety.

There also needs to be a return to the setting of speed limits at levels that a substantial majority of drivers would consider reasonable. This may require removing speed limit setting powers from local authorities, which are often influenced by vociferous residents or anti-car organisations into reducing limits unnecessarily.

Finally, the police should be given the money they need to reinstate police traffic patrols, to deter reckless behaviour by the minority of drivers who, in many cases, are not caught by automated camera enforcement.

Police in Scotland Abandon Plans for Speed Awareness Courses

According to a report in the Herald newspaper, police in Scotland have shelved plans to introduce speed awareness courses in the country like they operate in England.

The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) has of course campaigned against the misuse of police waivers and the perversion of justice involved in the police extracting cash by inducing the payment of a bribe to waive prosecution. See our AMPOW campaign here: https://www.speed-awareness.org/ . Only recently a Government commissioned study showed there was no benefit whatsoever in terms of casualty reduction from sending millions of people on speed awareness courses every year.

The Scottish Police Authority have suggested that they have “deprioritised” the introduction of such courses on financial grounds as they would require substantial investment in new IT facilities. But could it be that they have realised how legally dubious the operation of the system in England really is? The ABD has made representations on this subject to the senior legal authorities in Scotland who would have to give permission for the operation of such a scheme. Perhaps this is a case where the police in Scotland have simply been persuaded that it is a step too far?

All we need now is for the UK Government in Westminster to recognise the same reality.

See the Herald story here for more information: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/16600735.police-put-brakes-on-plans-to-drop-fines-for-speed-awareness-courses/?action=success#comments-feedback-anchor

Roger Lawson

Press Release: No Benefit From Speed Awareness Courses

 The Department for Transport (DfT) have, after a long delay, published the Ipsos-MORI report that they commissioned into the effectiveness of speed awareness courses. This is the key statement in the Executive Summary: “this study did not find that participation in NSAC [National Speed Awareness Courses] had a statistically significant effect on the number or severity of injury collisions”.

In other words, as the Alliance of British Drivers has repeatedly said, this unethical and legally dubious diversion of drivers to speed awareness courses is primarily about generating money, not about road safety because there is no evidence of any real benefit. Indeed drivers who have attended such courses might be interested in another statement in the report: “the NSAC was not designed to reduce the incidence of collisions”. So what exactly is the objective one might ask as it appears not to be focussed on improving road safety?

Was the study too small to produce statistically significant results? Not exactly because the records of 2.2 million drivers, of whom 1.4 million had accepted a course offer, were studied over a period of 4 years. This data was linked to subsequent speed reoffending and involvement in collisions to produce the report’s conclusions. That’s a large sample.

The only impact they found was that there was a small reduction in reoffending after involvement in an NSAC, but that is surely hardly surprising because drivers might simply take more care about speeding after being caught for one offence because you cannot be offered a second NSAC within 3 years.

The report argues that an even bigger study might prove there is some benefit but the proponents of such courses are surely clutching at straws if they think that expense is worthwhile.

Regardless we suggest speed awareness courses should cease to be a money making industry for ex-police and road safety officers and should only be offered to people who are actually convicted of speeding offences. Otherwise they are just a way to bribe the police to look the other way when an offence is committed (a waiver of prosecution as they call it). That’s corruption and a perversion of justice!

The ABD’s campaign against this illegality is documented on this web site which explains the history, the financial arrangements and the evidence of police profiteering: http://www.speed-awareness.org/

The Ipsos-MORI report can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-speed-awareness-course-impact-evaluation

Roger Lawson

(Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmpowABD )

Speed Offences Hit Record High

Figures published by the Department for Transport (DfT) show that recorded speed limit offences hit a record high in 2016. With 2.1 million offences, they have increased steadily from a level of 1.1 million in 2010. They are now higher than the previous record level set in 2005. This is despite the fact that over 1 million drivers are now taking speed awareness courses every year to avoid prosecution. This surely demonstrates that such “education” courses are having no effect whatsoever on drivers’ behaviour.

The increase in the number of recorded offences is not down to increased speeding but simply because the police now see it as a great source of income and hence are using police “waivers” and speed awareness courses to generate money.

As the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) have repeatedly claimed, such operations by the police have nothing to do with improving road safety but are simply about generating cash. To remind readers, only 5% of personal injury accidents reported by the police have a factor of exceeding the speed limit as a contributory cause. There are other factors that are much more important which automated enforcement can do little about.

More information is present here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/cars/article-5114945/Speeding-offences-hit-new-high-2016.html . And of course on the AMPOW campaign web site here: www.speed-awareness.org

Roger Lawson