Nobody learns to drive by reading a book about driving, so what's the point of all these driving schools? Well, for one, more than 40,000 people die on America's roads each year, and even more are injured severely. You can improve your chances of staying safe on the road by honing your defensive driving skills. As a special bonus, your insurance company may reward your effort by lowering your insurance premiums.
The Under-25 Crowd: Saving Big on Auto Insurance
If you're a 17--year old kid (or have a 17--year old kid), there's no reason driving or traffic school shouldn't be a part of learning to drive. Consider it a rite of passage. Schools can range widely in what's taught--from basic "rules of the road" to advanced car handling techniques.
Most states require successful completion of a driver's education course to get a learner's permit. Besides learning the rules of the road and skills such as safe lane changes, education programs also highlight the dangers of multitasking (cell phone use, eating, socializing.) States want beginning drivers and all of the rest of us to be safe.
Meanwhile, the under 25 crowd, which includes most new drivers, pays higher insurance premiums because this group has a higher number of accidents than is typical for more experienced drivers.
Going back to driving school can show an insurance company that, yes, you may be young, but you're serious about staying safe, and you've put in the time to prove it. The resulting savings can be significant.
Saving on Car Insurance: Not Just for Kids
If you're still driving, you're not too old to go back to driving or traffic school. Of course, the instruction will make you a safer driver (the most important reason,) but it can also lower your insurance rates.
Following a speeding ticket or an at fault accident, you may pay a higher insurance premium. You may even be ordered by the court take into consideration your driving course completion in adjusting your rate.
Some states even mandate a reduction in insurance rates for mature drivers who take an approved driver improvement course. One course for mature drivers (over 55) in Florida offers a four-hour, online course for only $14.95. Besides your improved safety, it gives you a mandatory reduction in your insurance rate for three years! Check with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for details as the laws vary state by state.
Depending on your insurance company, you could be leaving a discount on the table by not checking the box that says "I went to driving school." Take the initiative and complete a defensive driver training course both to improve your safety and to lower your insurance rates before you're issued any tickets.
You're Worried about Time and Money?
If you already have a valid driver's license, or need a learner's permit, you have many options to choose from. Courses are offered online and in your community. The courses vary widely in the number of hours required and course fees. Check with your state's DMV, which although not a government site, directs you to individual state's sites. All those choices put you in control of your time and money. Be safe while you save.
Choosing the Right School
Before you sign up and pay fees for a driver training course, check with your insurance company. See what you can save on your premiums, and find out which schools your company recommends. They may not accept some driving school courses.
The National Safety Council is active in driver education. So you may want to look for their seal of approval before committing to a particular school or course.
There's nothing uncool about saving money on car insurance. If school's going to do that, think about hitting the books before hitting the road.
Andrew Freiburghouse is a writer and businessman. As a partner at Los Angeles tax preparation firm Pronto Income Tax of California, Inc., Andrew has served thousands of clients both face to face and over the telephone. Currently, Andrew lives in Brooklyn, NY, and is in the process of starting up his own tax practice.
Gary P. Bangstad, Ed. D. is a freelance writer in the area of business and insurance. Previously, he worked for Midwest Financial Planning LTD, selling insurance and investment products. He has also taught music at the university level.
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