Speeders may be offered '˜driving courses' instead of fines

Thousands of drivers caught just over the speed limit could be offered speed awareness courses instead of fines and penalty points under plans being prepared by Police Scotland.

Police use a speed gun to collect evidence of drivers breaking the limit. Picture: John Devlin

Senior officers are preparing a case for re-educating rather than punishing motorists after Chief Constable Phil Gormley voiced support for the scheme to MSPs.

He has now asked Chief Superintendent Andy Edmonston, the head of road policing, to “progress the discussion”.

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The half-day courses are common south of the Border, and many Scots caught speeding on the M6 have attended sessions in Cumbria.

Those taking part pay a fee similar to the basic £100 speeding fine, but avoid having three penalty points added to their licence or higher insurance premiums.

Edmonston said: “This is a move to look at the viability of courses. It is the right sort of approach. There is a lot of criticism of the inequality of the system compared with south of the Border.

“We want to build a culture where we are prosecuting the right people rather than normally law-abiding members of the public who have had a momentary lapse of attention.

“They made a mistake and it is not necessary to criminalise them.”

Only drivers caught just above the limit, including by speed cameras, would be eligible, and the change would have to be approved by the Lord Advocate.

The Crown Office has said it is “happy to consider diversion schemes” if they are shown to improve road safety.

The Scottish Government said it “supports the general principle of driver education as an alternative to prosecution”.

Former driving instructor Alison Harris, from Worcestershire, who went on a course after being caught doing 37mph in a 30mph zone, said: “I’m so careful now. My attitude changed from ‘I better not be caught’ to ‘I better be more responsible’.”

Neil Greig, of motoring group IAM RoadSmart, said: “There is widespread support for the concept.”