In 2021, there were 39,508 fatal car accidents in the United States, killing 42,939 people. Accidents happen for a variety of reasons. One of them is an aggressive driving style.
When driving a car, we regularly encounter drivers who often rearrange, change lanes, suddenly accelerate, brake sharply, keep the minimum distance to the car ahead, and can “cut off.”
When you drive out on the road, you must understand that you’re almost always surrounded by other cars and drivers. Compliance with traffic rules does not ensure risk reduction because you do not know what another road user can do. Even if you are a professional driver with a lot of experience, you are still at risk of getting into an accident because of the unforeseen actions of other road users.
That is why it is important to anticipate emergencies and the intentions of other drivers in order to prevent a critical moment from occurring. That’s what defensive driving courses are designed for.
Learn what these courses are, what they are for, and in which states you can take them in our article.
What Does Defensive Driving Mean, and Who Will Benefit from an In-Person Defensive Driving Course?
Defensive driving is a way of driving a car in which the driver does not allow an accident, regardless of the behavior of other road users, road or weather conditions, and other circumstances.
Approved online defensive driving course is a special training methodology aimed at improving road safety and reducing the risk of road accidents. It’s available online and offline.
The aim is to teach you techniques that will help you:
- Recognize risks specific to different driving conditions promptly;
- Recognize factors affecting concentration and find ways to overcome them;
- Maintain a safe space around the vehicle while driving at different speeds;
- Select a safe speed limit depending on traffic, road conditions, and weather conditions;
- Plan a route and prepare and staff the vehicle depending on the length of the trip;
- Reduce risks when driving in winter and in difficult road conditions.
Defensive driving is a useful skill for every driver, not just beginners. While improving knowledge and driving skills allows the driver to reduce the risk of an accident to a minimum with certain actions, a lot of driving experience does not guarantee a reduction of risk on the road.
A defensive driving instructor course is also useful for drivers who have had a long break between getting their license and starting to actually drive. Lack of practice increases stress and fear of accidents when you get back behind the wheel.
Key Principles of Defensive Driving
The principles of defensive driving are formed based on the factors that lead to a collision. Let’s consider what they are:
- Be attentive. While driving, it is vital to be as focused as possible to react in an emergency, to see pedestrians ahead of time, and to assess the situation on the road when making maneuvers.
- Give way. To avoid getting into an accident, giving way to another car or pedestrian who is violating is better. Do not take risks for a few seconds of saved time.
- Take your time. The road is intended for general use and is not a race track. High speed negatively affects the vehicle’s handling and lengthens the braking distance.
- Don’t think for others. Don’t judge the actions of other drivers based on how you behave on the road. Many think only about themselves and can cut and overtake, preventing everyone else, so it is important to be able to act on the situation and adjust to other people’s behavior.
- Monitor your car’s condition. Make it a habit to check your vehicle’s condition before you travel. Never rely entirely on onboard systems; don’t drive a broken car even into a neighbor’s yard.
- Signal your intentions. You prevent a collision by notifying other road users of your maneuvers. Don’t forget to turn on your headlights. Otherwise, you won’t be visible at night and will be hard to distinguish from a standing car during the day if you are driving slowly or starting to move.
Also, remember to keep a safe distance and don’t take any risks on the roads.
Defensive Driving Course: Auto Insurance Discounts
Insurance is a requirement to own a vehicle in almost all states (except New Hampshire). You must have at least minimum coverage, as driving without insurance is a severe offense and is punishable by law.
You must pay an average of $52 per month for the minimum policy. That’s a small amount that every driver can afford. However, such insurance has a significant disadvantage. If the accident happened due to your fault, it will compensate the injured party for the damage only. But what if you can’t afford another type of insurance?
Taking a drivers safety course online can help you save money on car insurance. Wondering how? More often than not, insurance providers offer discounts to drivers who take these courses.
Drivers trained in defensive driving are considered safer and less likely to get into accidents. The amount of the discount usually ranges from 5 to 20%. It all depends on your insurance company’s terms and policies, as well as the type of course taken.
Taking a defensive driving course not only helps you save money on insurance but also contributes to your overall safety and improves your driving experience. Below is a closer look at the benefits you get from the training.
Benefits of Defensive Driving Courses
To adhere to defensive driving, it’s not enough to follow traffic laws. This style requires knowledge, skill, and confidence. That’s when courses can come in handy.
What are the benefits of taking an offline or online defensive driving course? Let’s find out.
Improving Knowledge of Traffic Rules
You’ll learn to navigate intersections, pull onto highways, and change lanes safely.
You will also learn defensive driving techniques, such as how to anticipate and react to road hazards. This knowledge is essential for responsible driving.
Develop Good Driving Skills
You’ll learn how to keep a proper distance between vehicles, use your rearview mirrors effectively, and check blind spots.
You’ll also understand how to deal with common driving scenarios, such as driving in bad weather or at night. You’ve probably heard the expression, “Practice makes perfect”; and practicing in a controlled environment will help you be prepared for any driving conditions.
Driving courses provide a supportive environment where you can practice and develop your skills under the guidance of a professional instructor.
This will help reduce your excitement behind the wheel and build your confidence. When you feel comfortable and acquire the right skills, you can handle the challenges of driving independently.
License Exam Preparation
Taking a course can help novice drivers prepare for their driver’s license test. The classes cover the topics and skills tested on the final test and provide an opportunity to practice in a controlled environment. This will help you feel more confident and prepared when taking the exam.
Considering how many benefits courses provide, it’s safe to say that it’s a wise investment in your safety and well-being.
States That Offer Online Courses for Defensive Driving
Online defensive driving course is offered in many states:
Are you looking to take an online defensive driving course? Check the current rules and requirements on the official websites of highway departments or insurance companies, as they may vary.
What Do Defensive Driving Courses Cover?
Courses are designed to improve specialized professional knowledge and acquire new skills in defensive driving.
Defensive driving courses usually include the following topics:
- Motor vehicle driving safety provisions;
- Mental factors;
- Types and consequences of automobile accidents;
- Tasks and situations, decision making;
- The role of special equipment in ensuring one’s own safety;
- Control of the surrounding area;
- Techniques for controlling vehicle position and speed selection;
- Driving in conditions of limited visibility;
- Ensuring the safety of passengers and cargo;
- Active and passive safety systems of a modern car and interaction with them.
The program may vary by state and the company that provides the courses.
Never Stop Learning
Learning and constantly improving your driving technique is essential. This is the only way you can be a more confident driver, reduce the likelihood of accidents, and contribute to the overall safety of all road users.
In addition, you will be able to afford good insurance at an affordable cost, as many insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who have completed defensive driving courses.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a defensive driving course cost?
The price typically varies depending on the state of your residence, the course provider, and your choice between face-to-face and online courses. In fact, it can range from $20 to $100. The cheapest defensive driving course in Delaware is available for $14,95.
How to take a defensive driving course
First, you will need to find a provider approved by your state and choose the form of training (online or offline). At the end of the class, you will receive a certificate of course completion.
How many hours is the defensive driving course?
Typically, a class lasts between 4 and 8 hours. But you can train at your own pace, diving in as needed.
How often can you take a defensive driving course?
You can take a course every 12 months to maintain your knowledge and receive insurance discounts.
Victoria is a Senior Content Writer at American REIA. She helps customers find the right educational material through easily-digestible blog posts and buying guides backing their insurance coverage choice. Victoria covers the latest industry news and various insurance topics, including auto, home, health, and life insurance.