Perhaps you’ve considered taking one in the past and got overwhelmed by the options.
If you’ve searched for a defensive driving course before, you know just how many options are out there and how difficult it can be to make a decision:
- Should I take an in-class or online course?
- Video-based or text-based?
- 1-hour, 4-hours, 6-hours, or even longer?
- Which of the dozens of companies should I trust?
Your Road to Savings
With so many options, it can be difficult to decide, so here is the criteria to consider when deciding which driving course is right for you.
Before we get started, let’s clarify some terminology. A defensive driving course can be called many different things:
- Driving safety course
- Defensive driving school
- Accident prevention course
- Driver improvement course
- Traffic school
It’s important to understand, though, that most of these terms refer to the same thing: a course of study designed to help an already licensed driver improve her or his skills. So how do you choose the course that’s right for you? Here are five considerations.
1. Online Course vs. In-Class
The first big difference in courses is how they are offered.
Traditionally, defensive driving courses are offered in classrooms. Attendees travel to the location of the class, and sit for the required duration (sometimes as long as 8 hours!) and then complete an exam to receive a certificate of completion.
But almost all states now allow drivers to take a defensive driving course online.
While some people still prefer the social arrangement of gathering in a common location, the convenience of an online class can’t be understated.
First, an online defensive driving course doesn’t require you to be in a single location. Many courses are now mobile-friendly and tablet-friendly.
This means you can start the course from your desktop at home and continue it on your mobile phone while waiting at the DMV, your doctor’s office, in line at the grocery store.
Second, online defensive driving courses do not require you to take them at inconvenient times. Rather than giving up an entire Saturday or Sunday to completing a driver safety course, you can do it at a time convenient for you.
Of course, one advantage to the traditional classroom is the presence of a licensed instructor in the room so you can ask questions and get immediate feedback.
Ultimately, whether you choose an online or in-class course is a matter of personal preference.
2. Your Personal Goals or Needs
Before making a purchase of any course, make sure that it meets your goals or needs.
Most drivers take a course for one of three reasons:
The first reason is driver improvement. Accident prevention matters. It matters to the long-term health and safety of us and our families. Make sure that the course you pick offers high-quality instruction and that the provider has experience creating quality courses.
Reason number two why people take a defensive driving course is to reduce auto insurance premiums. Some insurance companies will offer a reduction in your insurance premiums for voluntarily completing a course. Your insurance agent will be able to tell you if you qualify.
And finally, the third reason people take these courses is to dismiss a traffic ticket or reduce points on their license. In some cases, the course may need to be court-approved or state-approved. If you are trying to get your ticket dismissed, ask your court clerk before taking a course to dismiss a ticket or for point reduction.
3. Type of Media Used
While many defensive driving courses online are now video-based, this doesn’t always mean the same thing.
Some are simple animations using outdated styles of presentation. Others are state-of-the-art using modern animations, text-overlay, drone footage, dashboard cameras, and other rich media that can help you better understand how traffic safety works.
Make sure you look carefully before you buy.
Some online course companies advertise a defensive driving course at a low-price, only to hit you with 4, 6, or even 8 hours of reading. Want that text read aloud to you? That’s another $5. Want to see some video? Another $8.
So before you buy, read the fine print, take a free demo, and make sure that your defensive driving course provider is giving you the product you expect and need to become a safer driver.
4. Total Length (Time) of Course
Why are some courses 8 hours in length, while others can be completed in as little as 1 hour?
The reason for this variation has a lot to do with state certifications or insurance discount requirements.
As part of your research, it’s important to understand if a course is required to be of a certain length in your state. For example, some insurance companies in states like Georgia do not require an online course to be state-certified to receive an insurance discount.
If courses are not subject to state regulations, they don’t have to be long to help you meet your goals.
5. What is the Real Price?
Why does one company charge $20 while another charges $40 or more? Can these two courses really help customers meet the same goals?
The answer to this question is often “yes!”
Some companies with name recognition may choose to charge more. Some companies may offer their courses at a higher price because of a special certification, or because they have to pay for the expense of a classroom for their in-class option.
Some companies advertise a very low price for an online course, but then add on more for audio, and more for video, and then after you successfully complete the course, add on even more to send you your certificate!
It’s important to do your research before simply assuming that you need to pay an expensive price to a big-name company for your defensive driving course. It’s also important to note that just because a company’s name sounds official, does not mean that they have a government-approved course.
Look carefully at a couple different companies, read some FAQs, verify that the course is what you need, that the instruction is of sound quality, and then decide which course is right for you.
DriveSafe® Online knows that picking an online defensive driving course can be hard. We hope that these five criteria will make it easier for you to select the right course for what you need.
Regardless of whether you choose DriveSafe® Online or some other course to meet your defensive driving needs, we hope everyone learns the skills required to drive defensively, drive safe, and prevent accidents.
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