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Driving Skills Courses for Motoring Convictions

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 12 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Driving Skills Courses For Motoring Convictions

Across the UK, many local authorities and police forces actively encourage motorists charged with a driving offence to undertake training in motoring skills via a Driver Improvement Course, rather than have points added to their licence.

Many polices forces throughout England and Wales are part of the National Driver Improvement scheme, and they suggest different courses depending on the circumstances of the offence. Not all motorists who commit a offence will be eligible, there are several different factors including the type of motoring crime committed and the severity of the charge.

What Are Driver Improvement Courses?

Driving improvement courses are often offered to motorists who have committed a traffic offence. The idea is that rather than be punished for the offence by receiving points on their licence, they pay the fine which goes towards a place on a driving course for them. The intention is that they will improve their driving capabilities and their attitude, becoming a safer driver, reducing the likelihood of them being involved in an accident, and avoiding a repeat of the offence again in the future.

These courses shouldn't be confused with Advanced Driving Courses or self-nominated Driving Improvement Courses which are courses booked by an individual themselves rather than being an alternative to a punishment. This type of course, although often similar in content, is different because it is attended by people who proactively wish to improve their driving skills, and they are under no obligation to take or pass the course in order to keep their driving licences.

What Happens on a Driving Improvement Course?

It really depends where you are in the country. In some places drivers will have a mix of practical (in-car) tuition and classroom learning - in others, where the group numbers are higher, motorists may just have classroom based teaching. In all cases, motorists are taught by Department Of Transport approved driving instructors on how to anticipate potential dangers, improve their overall driving skills - such as how to work out speed limits if there are no signs, reduce bad habits, and of course they are given tuition on the Highway Code.

Why a Driving Course and Not a Ban?

The concept of the Driving Improvement Scheme is to put the emphasis on retraining rather than punishing. Often people who have been driving for some years have picked up some really bad habits, and in many cases don't even know when they are doing something that they shouldn't. This type of course identifies where individual drivers have such issues and can help them avoid falling foul of the law again, as well as reducing their chances of being involved in a accident in the future .

As the adage goes, prevention is always better than cure and the DIS agree. Its members hope that by getting motorists to re-learn the rules of the road they can reduce bad habits through education - sending motorists down the right road and away from committing any more driving offences.

Do Driving Improvement Courses Work?

Motoring groups believe that they do. The RAC are in favour of education over punishment for many minor offences, and as anyone who is caught offending again within 3 years of passing their Driving Improvement Course can be open to prosecution, it can be a powerful deterrent. Many people caught out for minor offences have simply developed bad habits, or have become complacent, and for them the course acts as a wake up call and gets them thinking about what they are doing on the road. Ultimately, this should make them a far safer, more considerate driver and mean that they are less likely to end up in a road traffic accident.

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