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How Do I Get a Defensive Driving Certificate?

Knowing how to drive in different weather conditions is usually covered in a defensive driving course.
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  • Written By: Josie Myers
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 18 March 2014
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There are a number of ways to get a defensive driving certificate. Generally, a course must be taken before certification is given. Courses are offered online or in-person. The location and type of course depends largely on why the student is pursing a defensive driving certificate. Courses can take as little as a few minutes to complete, or up to several months.

Courses can be taken for a number of reasons. Professionals who drive on the road regularly, like delivery and bus drivers, often take these courses to satisfy employer requirements. Parents encourage teens and beginner drivers to get a defensive driving certificate to increase their safety on the road, and sometimes to get lower car insurance rates. In the United States, one of the most common reason for taking a defensive driving certificate course is to satisfy state-mandated requirements for people who are in danger of losing their license.

There are online schools that offer courses without road testing. Courses can be sent via streaming video, and tests taken online or over the phone. These courses are most popular with those who are required to take driving courses to remove points from their driving record, or regain their driver's license if it has been revoked. Not all courses are approved for these purposes in all states within the United States, so anyone taking the course to restore a license should be sure that it is certified in their particular state.

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It is also possible to take an in-person defensive driving course to get a defensive driving certificate. Sometimes the course is completely classroom-based, while others are taken nearly entirely on the road, with an instructor. The number of hours spent training often depends on how the institute or school designed the course; the purpose of the course; and the regional requirements needed to earn an official defensive driving certificate. Courses intended solely to teach safety are usually longer and more extensive. The course usually culminates in an official exam.

During the course, students are taught strategies to avoid accidents. The program generally covers proper safe-driving techniques, like maintaining safe spaces between cars and proper signaling. Driving in dangerous weather conditions, like snow and ice, are also usually addressed. On top of personal actions, instructors teach students to stay safe by observing their environment and the actions of the other drivers on the road. The core part of a defensive driving course is to learn to take defensive action when an accident is imminent.

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Discuss this Article

SarahSon
Post 8

I think it is too bad that something like this is not offered in some states until someone is in danger of losing their license.

I can't help but think that if students were required to complete a defensive driving certificate along with their other training, it would make them much better drivers in the first place.

You will always have drivers that will have a harder time learning these lessons that others, but it would help them become more aware of what it takes to be a good defensive driver.

myharley
Post 7

I think that young kids should have as much experience as possible behind the wheel of a car before they have a drivers license.

Relying on driver education courses is not enough experience. As nerve wracking as it can be, time in the car driving with parents is the most beneficial. I would much rather have them get this experience when I am with them in the car, than when they are on their own.

Obtaining a defensive driving certificate is also a good idea. If this is offered in your state, I think it would be through the Department of Transportation.

Classroom instruction is good, but nothing is as helpful as actually getting in the car and driving in all kinds of conditions and situations.

julies
Post 6

I wish some kind of defensive driving certificate was available before my son got his drivers license. If this was available in our state I didn't know anything about it.

It might not have done any good, but it certainly would not have done any harm. Once he was driving and hit a patch of ice and totaled his car. Another time he fell asleep at the wheel and had another wreck.

Both times he has been lucky to be alive, but that is a hard and expensive way to learn defensive driving skills.

Both of his accidents were because of his inexperience and probably some carelessness on his part. These might have been able to be avoided if he had more exposure to driving defensively.

KaBoom
Post 5

@indemnifyme - As you said, it is a good idea to check with your carrier. A few years ago I found out that my insurance company doesn't offer a discount like this for adults. However, they do offer it for young drivers.

I know it's really expensive to get insurance for a young driver, so checking into something like this might be worthwhile. Plus, in my opinion, young drivers need all the help they can get being safe on the road!

indemnifyme
Post 4

I just wanted to reiterate that a defensive driving certificate or class can get you a discount on your car insurance. Since I work in the business, I know how expensive insurance can be. But, sometimes the discounts save the day!

I would urge everyone to check with their insurance carrier and see if they offer a discount for something like this. If so, take the class! First of all, it will reduce your risk of having an accident by making you a safer driver. Second of all, you'll save money. Sounds like a win-win situation to me!

sunshine31
Post 3

@Cupcake15 - I wanted to say that my husband a few years ago went to driving school and on his way home received another ticket. Naturally the police officer explained that he could go to driving school in order to keep his points from being taken off his license and my husband laughed and showed the police officer his driving class completion certificate.

The police officer laughed and I did too because I don’t know anyone that receives a ticket on their way back from driving school. Each state really has restrictions on how many times you can use this driving school option. I know that you have to wait three years in Florida between offenses so my husband clearly was not eligible.

cupcake15
Post 2

@Subway11- I know what you are saying but I think that you have to be disciplined to be able to take a course like this from home because most people would put it off until the very end. I would rather go to a classroom setting in order to get it over with. Knowing that I have something over my head like that would bother me.

I also think that when you take a defensive driving course in person you tend to pay more attention and have the option of asking questions. To me this is more entertaining than reading a course online.

subway11
Post 1

I have taken defensive driving courses before. It was mainly because I got a speeding ticket and needed to go to driving school so that I would not get the points taken off of my driver’s license. I know that there are a lot of options now for defensive driving classes. I took one via a DVD course.

I was sent a DVD and a test booklet and had to take quizzes along different parts of the DVD course. There were also numbers that I had to provide that were offered throughout the course to prove that I saw the DVD. I like this option because I could pace the course as I needed and I had two weeks to complete it.

I also know that there are online options as well. Those courses are about three hours long and I believe that they are self-paced as well. These defense driving courses are much more convenient than spending the day in a classroom.

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