A defensive driving course in California is sometimes referred to as traffic school. Technically, there aren’t any defensive driving courses in California. There are traffic schools and Mature Driver Improvement Programs. The court clerk has the authority to grant you Traffic School, while the DMV regulates the different types of licenses for traffic school.
The Difference between Traffic School and Defensive Driving
There is a difference between a traffic school and a defensive driving course. Traffic school requires court approval and helps to mask specific traffic violations. On the other hand, defensive driving courses are optional, and the impact on your insurance and driving record differs in each state.
The course, conducted in-person or online, is meant to improve your driving skills and help you make faster and safer decisions behind the wheel.
In California, unlike other states, the effect of completing a defensive driving class is limited. In other states, you can see a reduction of points and even a decrease in your auto insurance premium. However, according to the California DMV, only drivers old than 55 are eligible for an auto insurance discount after successful completion of an approved mature driver improvement course. A list of approved Mature Driver Improvement Programs can be found here.
For example, Geico offers customers over the age of 50 an insurance premium discount for three years if they complete the course.
Don’t fall for some California companies incorrectly advertising Mature Driver Improvement Programs as defensive driving courses.
What do you learn in a Defensive Driving Course?
Defensive driving course content varies from state to state. A typical defensive driving course syllabus will include:
- New state traffic laws
- State traffic regulations
- How to prevent accidents
- Traffic car crash statistics
- Dangers and consequences of driving under the influence
Why Enroll in a Defensive Driving Course?
- In some states, insurance providers will offer customers a discount for completing a defensive driving program.
- The course can act as a refresher and help you improve your driving techniques
- Some states like New York allow you to remove points from your driving record if you complete a defensive driving class.