What is a Defensive Driving Test?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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A defensive driving test is an examination of an individual’s understanding of the practices of defensive driving. Defensive driving is commonly defined as a mastery of skills beyond the basics of operating a motor vehicle, with attention to safety and efficiency on the road. It represents an approach to driving oriented toward taking proactive action to avoid potential accidents, and identifying potential dangers on the road before they become problems. A defensive driving test is often given in the context of a defensive driving course.

Defensive driving tests, and the courses that contain them, can be good for a variety of purposes. Students taking these tests can sometimes help mitigate the costs of a traffic citation. Some students who take a defensive driving test can get lower insurance rates.

Defensive driving tests come in a variety of types, and from a broad range of sources. A public agency might give a defensive driving test to citizens of a particular area to help assess risk and provide safety. A third party service may provide defensive driving test options to help consumers with insurance and other costs. Specific companies might give defensive driving tests to evaluate drivers, and those who will be professionally on the road.


A defensive or other driving test can be part of a basic requirement for students who are just learning how to drive. A comprehensive defensive driving test system helps ensure that new drivers receive the education they need to get behind the wheel. It’s routine for high schoolers to take these kinds of tests and engage in other kinds of learning about what happens on the road.

Other defensive driving test options can be presented online to help individuals quickly gage their own knowledge of safety on the road. Some other types of driving tests are administered by unusual parties. The GMAC, a captive finance company for General Motors, administers its own annual defensive driving test as a public service. The company operates this test in conjunction with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The general content of a test that focuses on defensive driving will be relevant to how the best drivers stay safe. A test in defensive driving might include some questions about when it is safe to pass another vehicle on a specific kind of road. Other issues often covered in defensive driving tests include sight distances, right of way in traffic, and maintaining a safe following distance. Learners might also look at other topics such as impaired driving, aggressive driving, or even driving with cell phones and other devices.


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