The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for Roads Policing has suspended classroom-based speed awareness courses for 12 weeks, due to the Coronavirus lockdown.
In a statement, it said: “It is no longer appropriate nor proportionate for police forces to offer classroom based education courses.”
The UK Road Offender Education (UKROEd), which operates, manages, administers and develops the scheme on behalf of the Police Service, said it is working with forces and course providers to establish options to deal with drivers who have already been offered a course.
A Digital Classroom option has been approved for the National Speed Awareness Course, to be able to cater for members of the public who already had a course booked.
Some Police Forces and Course Providers are now taking steps to use this as an option and will be contacting offenders to explain what is going to happen next.
Drivers who have received a course offer, but not booked a course yet are being offered dates after the 12-week suspension period ends.
Motoring lawyer Nick Freeman has warned the suspension may cause many motorists who get caught speeding during the lockdown period to be issued with fixed penalty notices instead.
He told express.co.uk: “Motorists should be aware that minor transgressions which may have previously resulted in a speed awareness course may now result in a penalty points and fines.
“These speed awareness courses have always been discretionary – there is no automatic entitlement.
“But most constabularies offer them. However, as they are currently not an option, drivers convicted of speeding in these circumstances will get points and a fine."
DriveTech, one of the UK’s largest course providers, has been working quickly to re-arrange and restructure its current venue-based courses to allow equivalents to be offered to delegates online.
The business, which is part of The AA, said it is planning to run 400 courses this week, and more the following week.
It also claimed most police forces were helpful in granting extensions beyond the cut-off date.
Edmund King, AA president, said: "We have always argued that driver education is preferable to simply giving fines and penalty points as drivers can learn from the errors of their ways.”
Speaking to Fleet News about the suspension of speed awareness courses, Peter Millichap, marketing director at Teletrac Navman, said: “Delivery drivers are among the key workers playing a pivotal role in keeping the UK supply chain moving during this epidemic, and fleet managers will be doing all they can to ensure that the transport of goods continues to run as smoothly as possible. “
“However, it’s likely that operators will be feeling overwhelmed and maintaining driving behaviour may become a secondary priority, but it’s so important that the increased pressure doesn’t cause drivers to speed.
"The roads might be quieter but this shouldn’t be exploited and now more than ever it’s important that operators remind their drivers to take care on their journeys, continue to comply with the law and keep other road users safe.
"Technology can play a key role during this unprecedented time, by providing fleet managers with reassurance that they have complete visibility, ensuring their drivers are maintaining best practice.”
More than 1.2 million drivers attended a speed awareness course last year. The courses usually cost between £80 and £100, but motorists will not be required to pay a Fixed Penalty Notice or pick up penalty points on their driving licence.