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Edited by Jackie Cohen
Updated September 15, 2022
Choosing to take a defensive driving course is taking an actionable step to becoming a better driver. Suggested by the name, “defensive” refers to a certain style of safe driving that protects you and your car from being impacted by accidents and other people’s mistakes on the road. This is a great way for drivers—both new and experienced—to learn better driving techniques.
Not only does taking a class support accident prevention, but it also has great benefits for your auto insurance premium. Insurance companies reward drivers with clean driving records with discounts and cheaper rates. Another easy way to save is by using Insurify to shop around for the lowest prices. Comparing car insurance quotes is fast, simple, and free.
Some states require some form of a defensive driving class by law. Check your DMV.
Learning defensive driving techniques can significantly lower your car insurance rates.
If your driving history is full of claims and collisions, taking a course can help you save.
Basic Principles of Defensive Driving Techniques
How do I get the defensive driving discount?
If you complete a defensive driving course that's been approved by your car insurance provider, they may give you a defensive driving discount on your premiums.
Defensive driving is a technique that helps you stay safe on the road by being able to anticipate accidents and dangerous situations before they happen. We cannot prevent risky drivers from getting behind the wheel—the only thing we can do is control our own driving. These classes teach people how to reduce non-fault accidents by tailoring their own habits and being cautious.
Here are some of the basic principles of defensive driving:
Communicating on the road, signaling to others, and respecting other drivers
Anticipating and avoiding accidents before they happen
Adjusting your speed based on your surroundings, like a school or the highway
Following all traffic rules and laws
Effectively using your mirrors
Being aware and driving under conditions that help keep you alert
Keeping a safe amount of space around your vehicle
Being aware of anyone else you are sharing the road with, both humans and animals
Minimizing distractions while behind the wheel
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Defensive Driving Courses: What You Need to Know
Not only do these specialized classes help you learn how to be a safer driver, but they can also provide you with significant defensive driving course discounts. In some states, it is a legal requirement for drivers to take classes and apply these discounts to their insurance policies. Classes usually do not cost more than $50 and provide big savings in the long run.
In the United States, the National Safety Council (NSC) works to keep people safe on the road by getting rid of the leading causes of preventable death and injuries. The NSC started the U.S.’s first defensive driving course and continues to provide highly ranked safety programs that focus on roadways. NSC state programs are well known and respected, offering instruction in:
Keep in mind that the NSC isn’t the only place to get a driver education to apply to a defensive driver discount. Be sure to do your research. Many courses are aimed at young drivers or seniors who are more likely to be at risk, so check if there are any age restrictions. Other eligibility for discounts can depend on your driving record and location.
Other factors you may want to consider when choosing the right course for you:
Course length: Classes are short and usually range from four to eight hours.
Teaching methods: If you need more flexibility, consider an online defensive driving course that better fits your schedule. Alternatively, you can opt for in-person classroom teaching or learn directly on the road.
Cost: Courses are a relatively inexpensive one-time cost. They typically range from $10 to $50, although some states even offer them for free to incentivize learning safer driving skills.
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Courses You Can Choose From
There are a number of driver safety courses you can take, each with different lengths, costs, classroom settings, and more. Some classes might be a better fit for your driver profile (age, gender, location), so choose accordingly. Also note that insurance companies don’t treat all traffic schools the same, so check beforehand if they accept it as an approved course.
Here are some courses you can choose from:
Defensive Driving Course Online from the National Safety Council: One of the most popular courses, this is a quick and comprehensive guide to defensive driving. Teaching uses research, statistics, and data to help you experience real-life situations. You can choose the two- or four-hour class and tailor the material to fit your driver profile.
Defensive Online Driving Course by Drive Safely: One of the oldest companies in the business, this is one of the most highly rated courses. In addition to defensive driving techniques, it also teaches and provides: mature drivers ed, teen drivers ed, ticket dismissal, and DMV practice tests.
Drivers Education and Traffic School from the American Safety Council: An affordable, convenient, and commonly state-approved program, all you need to do is sign up for a class based on your state of residence, and you can get virtual access to all the materials. Whether on your computer, phone, or table, taking classes is super easy.
Senior Defensive Driving Program from AAA: Designed specifically for seniors, classes are offered in person or online. Students have 30 days to access the curriculum, which should only take about six hours. This should help as a refresher for people who have experience behind the wheel but need to stay up to date or practice.
Defensive Driving Courses from DefensiveDriving.com: This course is only recognized by Texas, Florida, New Jersey, and California. If you’ve gotten a traffic violation in any of these states, then this class can help you dismiss it. At the end, you can download your certificate from the platform.
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The Benefits of Taking a Driver Safety Course
The only thing a defensive driving class will cost you is a few hours of your time and likely less than $50. However, the benefits can be significant! From clearing traffic violations from your driving history to car insurance discounts that help you save big, the pros of taking a short class definitely outweigh the cons.
Here is a list of ways a defensive driving class can help you:
Get defensive driving insurance discounts: Once you receive your certificate of completion, you may be eligible to save on your car insurance premium. Many car insurance companies provide a driver training discount of at least 5 and up to 20 percent for approved courses. In some cases, this discount can last for three years.
Reduce points: Most authorities use a point system to keep track of any traffic laws you may have broken that show up on your driving history. You can get rid of driver's license points, helping clear your record, by taking defensive driving classes and proving that you are taking the steps to become a better, safer driver.
Dismiss traffic tickets: By taking classes, you can get rid of previous mistakes on your record. Keep in mind that tickets come in two forms, a moving violation and non-moving violation, and traffic school might not be able to dismiss all of them. For example, the penalty of running a red light or driving past the speed limit differs from a parking ticket.
However, keep in mind that each state has its own regulations, so feel free to chat with an insurance agent or with your local department of motor vehicles (DMV) to make sure you can get the benefits you need. Also, no two insurance companies are the same. From State Farm to Allstate to GEICO, every insurer has its own rules when rewarding policyholders with discounts.
Defensive Driving Courses Can Help You
Being a good driver will always have its benefits. You protect your life and protect others from accidents caused by unpredictable motor vehicles, and insurance providers reward this with a number of auto insurance discounts. In the long run, being a safe driver saves insurers from having to pay for damage and injuries caused by collisions.
Another way to save big is by comparing car insurance quotes. Whether or not you choose to take a class is up to you. Either way, Insurify is here to help you find the best car insurance quotes. Insurify does all the work to go through millions of quotes from hundreds of companies to give you a side-by-side comparison.
Frequently Asked Questions
Depending on your insurance company and whether your class is an approved course, the discount varies. Typically, savings can range from 5 to a whopping 20 percent off your premium. In addition, many insurers reward safe drivers with extra savings and cheaper auto insurance policies anyway. Whether you have a clean driving record or not, the class can help.
Traffic school is open to anyone with a driver’s license! However, be sure to check with insurers beforehand to make sure that they accept your course for discounts. It is typically suggested that new drivers, mainly students and teenagers, take a course once they have passed their tests. Alternatively, seniors are also encouraged to take classes in case they need a refresher.
For just a few hours and less than $50, learning how to be a better driver can help protect your life, keep others on the road safe, give you significant discounts from insurance companies, and take points off of your driving history. At the very most, an in-person class can cost around $100, which is still cheaper than a fender bender. Long story short: it is definitely worth the investment.
If a defensive driving class isn’t an option for you, or you’re just looking for other ways to help your budget, the best way to save is by shopping around for the best policy. Insurify does all the work for you to make sure you’re protected on the road without breaking the bank. All it takes is a few minutes to fill out your driver profile and start getting great quotes!
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