Town to pioneer speed awareness sessions for young drivers

Speed camera
Speed camera

YOUNG motorists are to be offered expert advice for free in a pioneering move to improve road safety.

Hartlepool is believed to be the first area in the country to offer mini-versions of the national speed awareness course to drivers between the ages of 17-25.

Paul Watson (left) is hopeful the courses will lead to fewer drivers falling foul of speed cameras

Paul Watson (left) is hopeful the courses will lead to fewer drivers falling foul of speed cameras

At the moment motorists can only sign up for the four-hour session if they have been caught speeding.

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This enables them to avoid the standard £60 fine and three-point penalty and therefore keeps their insurance premiums static.

Yet drivers taking the £80 course in Hartlepool have found it so beneficial that they have asked if it could be rolled out to their children.

Hartlepool Borough Council, which runs the sessions throughout the Cleveland Police area on behalf of the force, now plans to oblige before the end of the year.

Funding for the mini-courses will come from the £80 fees paid by guilty motorists.

But younger drivers will not have to be caught speeding to enrol.

Paul Watson, the council’s road safety team leader, explained: “We have feedback sheets at the end of the course and one of the most popular comments made by people in Hartlepool in particular is that they wish the course was available for their sons and daughters.

“Up until now we have had to say ‘no, we cannot help because you have to commit a speeding offence to be offered the course’.

“So what we are going to do later this year is offer a mini-version of the speed awareness courses for younger drivers across Hartlepool.”

Exact details have still to be confirmed although Mr Watson is hopeful the courses can be held across town.

Topics will include safe stopping distances, speed and drink-driving limits, road signs and the potential dangers of drivers listening to loud music.

Mr Watson said: “It may be in one venue or it could be that we have one in each of the council wards.

“Some private companies will charge for something similar but I do not think any local authorities do it.

“If it is a success then it will be rolled out across the Cleveland area.”

The national speed awareness course was launched in 2005 as an alternative to the standard £60 fine and three points penalty.

Motorists are only allowed to take it once in any three-year period.