Drivers to be offered courses instead of prosecution

Two new courses are being offered to drivers in the county as an alternative to prosecution
Two new courses are being offered to drivers in the county as an alternative to prosecution

Two new educational courses aimed at motorists as an alternative to prosecution have been launched in the county.

The Driving 4 Change and What’s Driving Us? courses will be offered to people who have committed lower level motoring offences who would usually be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice and a fine.

Officers will now be able to give those people they have stopped the option of either accepting a £60 fine and in some cases, three points on their licence; or attend the appropriate course and pay £80 or £85.

The Driving 4 Change course aims to educate motorists who have been found to be driving carelessly, with a lack of concentration or a lack of awareness of the law and will cost £85.

And the What’s Driving Us course is for those drivers where the evidence suggests the driver knew that they were committing an offence but where there was no high risk involved in that offence and will cost £80.

The final decision of which course is offered will be made by the force’s Justice Department based upon the evidence provided by the issuing officer.

Operations Superintendent Sean Bell said that after considering the impact such courses have had in other parts of the country they feel it is the right move for Northamptonshire.

Supt Bell said: “Research suggests that courses such as this are more effective than prosecution as a means of reducing re-offending.

“Evidence suggests that these types of courses can have an impact on reducing the number of road deaths, address poor driver behaviour and protect other people using our roads.

“The knock-on impact of this would be a reduction in healthcare costs, savings in court time as well as a reduction in police investigative costs.”

A force spokesman said Northamptonshire Police is committed to reducing the number of collisions on the county’s roads and the force has an on-going operation to tackle motorists who are found to be committing the four offences which most often lead to collisions.

Supt Bell added: “Our Safer Roads Team continues to run the Fatal Four campaign, tackling those people who are found speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, using a mobile phone or drink driving.

“We have been running a Speed Awareness course for some time and we always receive positive feedback from those people who have opted to take part.

“I believe that educating drivers can have a huge impact on how they drive in the future and these courses provide a valuable tool for us in tackling road traffic offences.”

Offences regarded as lower level include failing to stop at a pelican or zebra crossing, driving on a motorway hard shoulder, failing to stop when asked to do so by a police officer or traffic warden and using a handheld mobile phone while driving.

Those motorists found to be committing more serious offences will continue to be dealt with by way of a summons to appear at Magistrates’ Court.