Almost 1.2 million were sent on speed awareness courses.

Almost 1.2 million motorists were sent on speed awareness courses last year as record numbers attended the police’s ‘offender retraining’ programmes.

In total, 1.4 million drivers attended the nine training courses available to police, which include the ‘What’s Driving Us?’ scheme for offences such as using a mobile phone while driving and the new National Motorway Course.

The 2017 figures represent an increase of almost one million compared with 2010, which is when the courses were first introduced.

Driver retraining courses are designed to re-educate drivers caught committing relatively minor offences and, at the police’s discretion, they can be offered in lieu of penalty points.

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For example, North Yorkshire Police will consider speed awareness courses for those caught driving at between 10 percent plus two mph and 10 percent plus nine mph above the prescribed speed limit. Therefore motorists caught at between 35mph and 42mph in one of the county’s 30mph zones may be offered the choice of completing a course, as long as they have not attended another in the past three years.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said the number of drivers attending courses could increase further in 2018.

‘The emergence of so many courses partly reflects the increasing complexity of the road network and rise in restrictions drivers now face,’ he said. ‘From 20 mph zones in towns to variable speed limits on motorways the rules of the road are growing in type and number, and there now seems to be a course to match every eventuality.

‘The record number of courses run last year could be topped this year as police step up enforcement of red X signals on smart motorways.’