What’s Good about Driver Safety Classes?

by Jim Thompson | Last Updated: March 22, 2021

Defensive driving. Traffic school. Basic driver improvement. Different states use different names, but they’re all driver safety courses.

Most people only think of taking one of these courses if they’ve recently received a traffic citation. But courses like these can be beneficial, ticket or not.

Driver safety courses can do more than making tickets go away. These courses can be used to reduce the number of points on your driving record or the amount of money you pay each month for auto insurance. Driver safety courses can also supply information to help you become a smarter, safer, and more confident driver.

Ticket or no, find out the other benefits of taking a driver safety course.

What are Driver Safety Classes?

If you’ve ever received a traffic ticket, you may already be familiar with driver safety courses and how they work. On the other hand, if you’ve driven your whole life and never experienced the thrill of seeing blue lights flashing in your rearview, you may have some questions.

Simply put, driver safety courses are classes that work as an excellent refresher for all of those things you’ve forgotten since drivers ed.

The length and difficulty of the course depend on the state where you live. Driver safety can be completed in a traditional classroom setting or, in most states, online.

No matter the delivery method of the material, driver safety curriculum varies little from state to state. The course covers things like:

  • Driving laws of your state
  • Accident prevention
  • Handling emergency situations
  • Driving in hazardous conditions
  • Sharing the road with others
  • Right of  way rules
  • Safe driving techniques
  • The dangers and consequences of DWI

These courses all feature some method of assessment to measure your understanding of the material. The assessment component may be handled by a final exam or by short quizzes at the end of each unit. In either case, your state has set a passing standard (usually 70-80% ) you will have to meet to receive a certificate of completion.

Go Directly to Driver Safety– Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200

In some instances, the decision of whether or not you’ll be attending a driver safety course is not yours to make. Repeat and grievous offenders are often ordered by the court to complete a course just to keep their licenses. Citations that could land you in a mandatory class include:

  • Excessive speed (Generally 25+ MPH over the posted limit)
  • Reckless driving
  • Violations that resulted in accidents
  • Multiple offenses within a certain amount of time

Drivers court-ordered to complete driver safety are not afforded the pleasure of dismissing their ticket by attending a class. But, since they are allowed to keep their licenses, it ain’t all bad.

Fortunately, most moving violations are minor ones. These “little” sins can be forgiven with a driver safety course.

In either case, there is one important detail that should not be missed.  The course that is chosen must be state-approved. Otherwise, the court will not accept the certificate of completion, and you’ll find yourself paying for a second course and starting all over.

Sign-up Voluntarily for Driver Safety Course Benefits

I know that headline isn’t very enticing, but let me explain.

Some students attend driver safety courses of their own volition. But why?

Point Reduction

All state driving agencies maintain driving records on every license holder in that state. If drivers earn a citation or have an accident, these records are assessed points. If enough of these points are earned, you may lose money through state fines. If any points are earned, you’ll definitely be losing money in higher insurance premiums.

Some states have procedures allowing drivers to remove driving record points by completing a driver safety course. In essence, this is like dismissing a traffic ticket retroactively. With fewer points, you’ll reduce the chance of paying fines (or facing license suspension) and may qualify for an insurance premium reduction, too.

Not all states have programs like this. Check with your local DMV (or BMV or MVD or LMNOP; you know who I’m talking about) to find out if you are lucky enough to live in a state that does.

Insurance Savings with a Driver Safety Course

Most major insurance companies offer some type of “safe driver discount” for policyholders who voluntarily complete a driver safety class. They understand that more knowledgeable drivers have fewer accidents. Fewer accidents mean more premium dollars flow to their bottom line, and they don’t mind sharing the wealth. Well, at least part of it.

You may have heard that “to make money, you have to spend money,” and this is a case where the bang-to-buck ratio is weighted heavily in your favor. Where else you gonna make $20-30 bucks an hour to play on your favorite electronic device?

Even if you don’t “…have 15 minutes to save 15% on car insurance,” spending about five minutes reading this just might make you (and your wallet) happy.

Which Insurance Companies Offer Defensive Driving Discounts?

Another note—These discounts aren’t necessarily just for drivers without tickets. Some states allow drivers to “double-dip” by using their certificates with the court and their insurance companies. This way, a driver safety course keeps the ticket off your record, and your insurance company will never know you got one in the first place.

If you do happen to be currently working on a driver safety course, don’t rob yourself of this benefit. Get a copy of your completion certificate to your insurance company, too!

Another “Another note”—Don’t cost yourself money by making this mistake, either.

Some drivers don’t take advantage of a safe driver discount believing that taking a driver safety class now will deny them the privilege of taking it for ticket dismissal in the future. I guess they feel better having an “ace up their sleeve” that they can play later, just in case.

The fact of the matter is, that’s not a fact at all. You will not forfeit future ticket dismissal possibilities by taking driver safety to save money here in the present. Granted, it would be ironic (and, for the rest of us, hilarious) for you to get a ticket soon after finishing driver safety for an insurance discount, but you could still get it dismissed.

A Final Thought

Completing a driver safety course is probably nowhere on your list of “great things to do this weekend,” but maybe it should be. Revise your “great things to do” list. There are plenty of good reasons “to do” so.

No matter why a driver takes a driving safety course, they will leave the class with some refreshers and reminders about safe driving, and who among us couldn’t use a little of that?

Signing up for traffic school benefits is easy and taking it online makes it easier still. Don’t believe it? Check out a course from our friends at ApprovedCourse.com. You’ll see.