In Tennessee, drivers who are 55 years old and above and voluntarily attend a mature driving improvement class (also known as the Senior Defensive Driving Course) are automatically qualified for a discount on their auto insurance. What’s more, this isn’t a privilege. In Tennessee, rate reduction for qualified senior defensive drivers is the law. Discounts for taking a senior defensive driving class is usually 10%, but can vary based on your insurer, as some insurers can offer as much as a 20% discount on certain coverages.
Benefits of taking a Defensive Driving Course in Tennessee
Getting older does not necessarily mean your driving days are over. But there’s no denying that age can affect your ability to drive safely. The good news is that when you keep track of your physical and mental changes, you’ll be able to adjust with the help of an approved Mature Driver Improvement Program. The best news is that this kind of proactivity to hone your safe driving skills earns you a money-saving opportunity as well.
Reduced rates on your insurance policy
According to the 2013 Tennessee Code Annotated § 56-7-1107, the rates and premiums for every automobile insurance policy must include a provision for appropriate reductions for any motor vehicle --provided that the driver is over 55 years old and has recently completed a motor vehicle accident prevention course approved by the Commissioner. As a qualified insured, you get to hold on to this discount for a good three years from the date of successfully completing the said course. The amount of discount will depend on your insurance company, but generally, the figure offered is between 5% and 20%. For example, DefensiveDriving.org recorded the discount to be 10% for most drivers.
The law further states that only accident prevention courses accredited by the Commissioner are eligible for the discount. The course must consist of at least eight (8) hours either in the form of a traditional classroom set-up, or as a cyber class which you can take privately. Once you’ve finished the program, the provider will issue you a certificate which will deem you eligible for the rate reduction. You can easily renew your right to the discount by re-taking the 8-hour mature defensive driving course every three years. Note that, even if you do not make the age-cut, chances are your insurer will be willing to offer you some amount of discount for completing and getting a certificate if you ask them for it.
Increase confidence in your driving ability
An even more practical benefit for taking a Senior Defensive Driving Course benefits you on an emotional level, too.Most mature drivers are considered safe drivers. However, as you age, your body goes through certain natural declines that make driving potentially risky. As examples:
- Impaired vision
- Weakened physical fitness and health
- Slower mental skills and reflexes
- Impairment due to maintenance medications
It’s a sensitive issue, because like everyone else, older adults rely on driving for mobility and that feeling of independence. Stripping a senior citizen of his car keys is simply unfair especially when you’re willing to improve your traffic performance.
Here is how a Senior Defensive Driving Course gives you a fighting chance. It provides you with a refresher course on the rules of the road while keeping you up to speed with newer ones. It helps you learn new driving skills that should make you adapt to ever-changing highway scenarios. These not only lead to road safety but earn you road savvy.
The Senior Defensive Driving Course Curriculum
A Senior Defensive Driving Course is far different from a regular driver improvement program. Mature Driver Courses are tailored to meet your unique needs as an older adult. Its curriculum should cover the following topics:
- Limiting the Risk of Collision: A carefully designed review of basic road signs, signals, markings, and current Tennessee highway laws is the first step to crash prevention.
- Driver Fitness and Aging: A run-down on how your physical and emotional fitness impacts your driving. This course teaches you how to compensate for hearing loss, vision changes, and slower reaction times brought about by age.
- Limiting Distractions in Traffic: Congestion from traffic has increased through the years. Part of your mature driver's course will focus on highway driving, exiting, lane changes, and strategically maneuvering around big trucks.
- Avoiding road rage and sharing the road: Patience and defensive driving will teach you how to properly deal with aggressive drivers, tractor-trailers, motorcycles, and driver distraction.
- Properly utilizing car safety restraints: There are safety features common to most cars. If you haven’t tried all of them yet, you will at your Senior Defensive Driving Course.
- Safely maintaining your vehicle: No one is too old to learn fresh troubleshooting techniques on the road.
There are no final exams to take if you’re a senior citizen. MatureDriverCourse.com expresses that you only need to complete and pass Module quizzes before moving on to the next section of your program. You can attempt these quizzes as many times as you like. Thus, making a passing score a guarantee.
Senior Defensive Driving Course Providers in Tennessee
Tennessee traffic schools may be a dime a dozen, but the State sifts through them with a fine-toothed comb. In fact, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) only has two approved traffic schools listed.
The AARP tuition fee you see here is for the online course. AARP’s classroom rates can only be determined once you've chosen from the provider’s list of venues where you want to take your training. The AAA Foundation, on the other hand, gives you a 4% discount on the Mature Defensive Driving Course itself if you’re a member of the AAA Foundation. Members of the foundation can avail of additional senior driver support – including a software that gauges your traffic performance after taking your morning maintenance medicine. Do not be daunted. The membership fee is only $14 for the first year.
This next shortlist has traffic schools approved by the Tennessee Department of Safety. Unlike other defensive driving schools, these providers have a specific focus on mature driver improvement. You will note that classroom courses are more expensive than online courses due to venue rentals, printed learning materials, and additional manpower. Online courses may lack human interaction, but its edge lies solely on the convenience and flexibility they can give you.