Almost 190,000 complete speed awareness course in NI

By Peter Coulter

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionThe PSNI has received almost £6m to cover administration of the course

Almost 190,000 speed awareness courses have been taken across Northern Ireland since the scheme was introduced seven years ago.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) also revealed that it has received almost £6m to cover administration costs of the course.

BBC News NI obtained the data through a freedom of information request.

The speed awareness course began in June 2010 and may be offered to drivers as an alternative to penalty points.

A total of 187,608 speed awareness courses have been completed since then.

The maximum speed of a participant on the course was recorded at 86mph in a 70mph zone.

Suneil Sharma completed it a few months ago in Belfast after he was caught driving at 38mph in a 30mph zone and said the course was "worthwhile but tedious".

image copyrightPA
image captionMore men than women have been caught speeding in Northern Ireland

"It was certainly worth doing the course rather than taking the penalty points," he said.

"They remind you of some of the basic things like leaving the house on time to avoid you driving quickly.

"I think I am a more careful driver now that I have been on it."

Mr Sharma said he was "completely gobsmacked" to hear how many people had taken part in the course.

The BBC has also obtained some figures about the speed awareness course and the Young Driver Scheme, which relates to the numbers of people who completed the course between 2011 and 2014.

More men than women have been caught speeding.

In 2012, almost 50% more men than women took part in the course, with 15,995 men taking part compared to 10,994 women.

image copyrightThinkstock
image captionDriver awareness courses are designed to reduce the risk of crashes

During the same period, 1,463 people completed the course twice while three people completed it on three occasions.

People who are caught speeding while under the age of 25 will complete a different course known as the Young Driver Scheme.

About 2,000 young people have been completing it each year.

The figures also reveal that about 100 young people each year are completing the course while they still have their R plates.

The course costs £89 and lasts for four hours, during which drivers are taught about the dangers of speeding and the impact of speeding during an accident.

On average, drivers will only be given the opportunity to take part in the course if they are driving within 10mph of the speed limit.

The course is offered at eight locations in Northern Ireland and is delivered by contractor AADriveTech.

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