SPEED AWARENESS COURSES available in all parts of the UK except Scotland should be addressed as a matter of urgency by the Scottish Government.
That is the view being expressed this week by a Moray and Highlands MSP, who had the issue brought to her attention by a constituent who was offered a place on a course – but could have had to travel south of the border to attend it.
Mary Scanlon MSP said that the constituent turned up at a local surgery and explained how after being caught speeding at 35mph in a 30mph limit in Carlisle, he admitted his offence to a court. His penalty was a choice of two options – a £100 fine and three points on his licence, or an £85 fee to attend a Speed Awareness Course.
“Clearly the latter option was preferable – but further investigations showed that he could not do the course locally in the Highlands, or indeed anywhere in Scotland and he would have to embark on a 700 mile round trip to England to take the course,” the MSP said.
She added: “There are obvious benefits to these courses not just preventing people willing to learn from their offence accruing penalty points on their licence – but these courses also improve driving standards. The fact that it is available in all other parts of the United Kingdom except Scotland is a worry.
“In remote and rural areas such as those of Moray and the Highlands and Islands it would be a huge benefit to take the course rather than penalty points, which could lead to someone losing their licence. I have heard from people who have taken the course and they praise the content and are in no doubt it makes them better and safer drivers.”
Mrs Scanlon revealed that further investigation uncovered a move in 2011 by Murdo Fraser MSP who was told at the time the Scottish Government would “consider the benefits of such a scheme”.
She added: “A sub-group has now been set up consisting of key partners from Transport Scotland’s Road Safety Strategic Partnership Board and Operational Partnership Group including Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service examining the evidence on the effectiveness of speed awareness courses.
“While this is welcome it seems the Scottish Government has not progressed this matter much in recent years and I believe it is time to remove the anomaly where by these courses are not available in Scotland.
“I have submitted a further Parliamentary Question to the Scottish Government and will be urging them to introduce these courses. It is surely to everyone’s benefit that speed awareness courses be offered as an alternative to prosecution for low-end speeding offences.”