Whenever we represent a new client who has been charged with a traffic offence, one of the questions that we always ask ourselves is whether they should attend a defensive driving course. In almost all cases, our opinion is that they SHOULD attend such a course and we will then recommend an appropriate course for them to complete.
Defensive driving courses are important for a number of reasons:
- It shows the magistrate or judge that our client is willing to go that ‘extra step’ to avoid committing similar types of offences in the future;
- It almost always improves the penalty that our client receives and our client is of course extremely grateful for this, particularly when the penalty will often involve a licence disqualification.
More importantly though, we believe that these courses are important for the safety of our clients and the public generally.
Young drivers may not have had enough experience with driving to know how to handle driving under different conditions. For example, driving during a thunderstorm is very different to driving on a bright and sunny day and drivers need to know how to handle both situations.
For older drivers, it can be easy to fall into the trap of assuming that they know what they’re doing because they’ve been driving for so long. Unfortunately with the passage of time, it is easy to become complacent when driving and to forget all the little rules and techniques necessary to drive safely.
This is where defensive driving courses play such an important part.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re 18 and on your Provisional licence or if you’ve been driving for 50 years already. It is almost certain that you will learn something new by attending a defensive driving course.
The courses themselves can range from a few hours of theory one evening to a full day which includes both theoretical and practical components. They are all good however some may be more appropriate than others.
Most people don’t attend a defensive driving course until they have already been charged with a traffic offence. We recommend that ALL driversfind the time to attend a course – it may help you to avoid being charged in the first place and it may just save your life one day.
Queensland Traffic Offenders Program
The Queensland Traffic Offenders Program (or “QTOP” for short) is one of the most well known courses in Queensland and has been running since March 2006.
The program requires a commitment of a few hours one evening each week for three weeks. If you are willing and able to attend different locations, you can even complete the program in 1.5 weeks.
It takes place in Nerang on Tuesday evenings and Mt Gravatt on Wednesday evenings and costs $185 (inc GST).
Topics that are covered include:
- Safe driving;
- Emergency services;
- Substance use;
- Legal issues; and
- Insurance cover.
Since this program takes place in the evenings and has two different locations, it is good for participants who work during the day and do not have the time to devote a whole day to attending a course.
If you want to attend QTOP, bookings are essential so make sure you visit their website to find out how to register.
Attitudinal Drivers Workshop
The Attitudinal Driving Workshop (“ADW”) was developed as a way to educate the community about safe driving and is designed to be accessible to anyone who wants to attend. For this reason, the only ‘cost’ is a gold coin donation of $2 to cover costs.
The ADW runs for just a few hours on one Monday each month. Although this means that there aren’t many courses that are run, it only takes a few hours and is therefore perfect for those who have limited free time. It is also ideal for those who don’t have much to spend on program fees.
Many of our clients have provided very positive feedback and have described how confronting this workshop can be. Its purpose is to make it very clear just how devastating the consequences of making poor decisions can be, not just on the driver but on the wider community as well.
S.A.V.E Traffic Offender Program
The S.A.V.E Traffic Offender Program (“S.A.V.E”) has been running in New South Wales for a number of years however they have recently been granted approval to bring their program to Queensland.
They are currently running their programs in Brisbane City which makes it very convenient for participants. They are also hoping to open further programs in:
- Gold Coast.
Unlike other programs, S.A.V.E runs for a full day. Fortunately, it is held on Saturdays which makes it accessible for most people who work Monday to Friday.
The cost is $160 and the program cover the following topics:
- What the law says;
- Traffic and highway patrol;
- Driving under the influence;
- Roads, vehicles and insurance; and
- The real casualties.
If you want to attend S.A.V.E, you can visit their website to find out more information.
Paul Stokell’s Defensive Driving Course
Unlike the courses discussed above, Paul Stokell’s Defensive Driving Course is a much more “hands on” experience.
It runs for 7 hours and covers a wide range of topics.
The theoretical subjects include:
- Defensive driving ‘What it means and how it is achieved’
- Evaluation of the main part of the car – the driver
- Driver attitude
- Practical Road Safety Tips
- Explanation of safety features of modern cars and how to use them
- Tyres and their importance in driving safety
- Vision skills
- Basic vehicle dynamics and skid control
In addition to the theory, participants get a chance to test their new knowledge by getting behind the wheel and applying it in real world situations.
The practical subjects include:
- Assessment of vehicle condition
- Seating & steering
- Emergency braking with & without ABS
- Emergency lane changes
- Reaction times and their effects on stopping distance.
- Vehicle handling / steering techniques
The cost for this program is $179 which is very reasonable when you consider just how much you will learn about how to be a safe driver.
Visit their website to find out more information about attending.
Charged With a Traffic Offence?
At Harper Finch Lawyers, we are very familiar with a number of different courses in Brisbane and throughout Queensland and we would be happy to discuss which course might be more appropriate for you.