Defensive Driving Courses in California

Defensive Driving Courses in California

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In California, drivers can take defensive-driving courses to brush up on their road skills and learn advanced driving techniques.

But unlike other states, you won't be eligible for an auto insurance discount unless you're 55 or older. The size of this discount will depend on your specific carrier and may not be available with all insurance companies.

Mature-driver improvement course in California

Drivers aged 55 and older can take a mature-driver improvement course to refresh their knowledge on the latest laws and safe-driving techniques. A California-approved course will cover the curriculum outlined in the California legislature and will last from four to seven hours, depending on the type of course you're taking.

To make these classes more convenient, the state amended its laws in 2007 to allow online-only courses. Enrolling in the online course allows consumers to go through the materials at their own pace with much greater flexibility in scheduling.

These are the types of lessons you can expect in a mature-driver improvement course in California:

  • Impairment while driving teaches drivers how visual and audio impairment might affect driving performance — and how to compensate for it.
  • DUI teaches the effects of fatigue, medications and alcohol on driving performance, either alone or in combination, and precautionary measures to prevent or offset ill effects.
  • Driver's safety techniques provides updates on state laws, safety equipment and efficient driving techniques.
  • Plan ahead before traveling helps drivers learn how to plan travel time and select routes for safety and efficiency.
  • Safety driving judgment teaches drivers how to make crucial decisions in dangerous, hazardous and unforeseen situations.

Mature drivers can either take a "first-timers" course or a renewal course. After you take the first course and receive your certificate of completion, you're eligible for a mature driver improvement discount on your auto insurance, which lasts three years. After those three years expire, you'll have to take renewal courses to reinstate the discount.

  • The initial course lasts between six and seven hours. Twenty-five students can enroll in each class per day or 30 students per two days.
  • The renewal course is typically four hours long.

Mature-driver improvement course providers in California

Other than the providers listed in the table below, there are other licensed courses approved by the DMV. However, some courses may not be provided at regular intervals. The providers listed below all have an online registration.

While the course fee can't exceed $30 plus a $1 fee for the DMV certificate, prices range between $1 and $39. The prices below are for the initial course, which are typically $2 to $3 more expensive than renewal classes because of the longer time frame.

Cost of mature-driver improvement course by provider

Provider
Cost
AARP Driver Safety Course$21.95

Mt. Diablo Unified School District

35.00

San Joaquin Safety Council

24.95

ACSC/CSAA Safe Driving Program

19.95

West Hollywood Mature Drive School

39.00

Safety Center Inc. of California

31.00

Central Valley Traffic School

19.99

Riverside Community College District

1.00*

West Contra Costa Adult Education

30.00

California Mature Driver Training

19.95

Dollar Driving School

17.95

South Pasadena Police Department

20.00
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  • Fee for the DMV certificate.

Defensive-driver training online by the Department of General Services

For younger California drivers, taking a state-approved defensive-driving course won't result in an insurance discount. But it might help you improve your driving skills, which may lead to fewer accidents and ultimately lower car insurance premiums. And if the course is free, then you have nothing to lose except a little bit of time.

In 2011, the Department of General Services (DGS) started offering free online defensive-driver training (DDT). After successful completion, students get a certificate. Although this online course was originally meant for government employees, it is also free and available to all who have internet access. The online DDT course by the DGS can be found on the department's website.

Mark is a Senior Research Analyst for ValuePenguin focusing on the insurance industry, primarily auto insurance. He previously worked in financial risk management at State Street Corporation.

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