Speeding drivers could be issued with a warning instead of fines and points on their licence under a planned shake up of motoring offences.

Police Scotland is looking to introduce a system of written warnings for drivers who go over the limit in 20mph and 30mph areas.

The warning will disappear from their record, and require no notification to insurance companies, after three months - as long as they are not caught speeding again within that time.

Police research suggests that as many as 18,000 drivers a year in Scotland could benefit from the new proposals.

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Chief superintendent Stewart Carle, head of road policing, is behind the changes and hopes that motorists will respond well to the change.

“If you stop someone for a motoring offence, the chance is no one has given them a row since their schooldays,” he said.

“If you have an opportunity to say ‘speeding is one of four fatal factors and we’re not going to prosecute on this occasion, we’re not going to give you a fine. Will you accept this warning?’, I think most people will say ‘Yes, absolutely’.

“This will benefit the prosecution authorities, so they can focus on the most serious cases.”

The written warnings will only be handed out by officers and will not be used for drivers caught by speed cameras.

If a driver reoffends within the three month timeframe, they will automatically receive a fine and points.

Police hope to introduce written warnings by the end of the year, pending approval from the Crown Office.

The force also hopes to introduce speed awareness courses, which have already reduced reoffending in England and Wales, further down the line.

Officers will first carry out a “scoping exercise” looking at how the courses would work.

While it is unclear exactly how much over the speed limit drivers will be allowed to go under the written warning scheme, Mr Carle is reported to have told the Scottish Mail on Sunday that the margins are “relatively generous”.

He said: “It would take cases out of the system - not just for police but the Crown. If it was a one in 20 reoffending rate, you’ve taken 19 cases out of the system.”

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Driving deaths have plummeted from almost 1,000 in 1969 to 146 last year, however, Neil Greig, of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, claims the numbers have “flatlined” in recent years.

While he welcomed the move by the police, he argued that a swift introduction of speed awareness courses could help to bring the death toll down even further.

He said: “We like the idea of a range of penalties, including verbal and written warnings, fines and speed awareness courses.

“Yes, the death rate has fallen in Scotland but it’s flatlined in recent years and there’s a couple of obvious things they could do - including speed awareness courses.”

Joshua Harris, of road safety charity Brake, added: “The introduction of written warnings for drivers who previously wouldn’t have faced any sanction for speeding is to be welcomed.

“But the fact remains that speeding endangers lives and we support a zero-tolerance approach.”

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A Crown Office spokesman said: “No decision will be made on the introduction of speed awareness courses, and their possible relationship with alternatives such as warnings, until the findings of the evaluation report have been considered.”

Currently, drivers who speed face a minimum fine of £100 and three points on their licence.