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What to Know About the AAA Defensive Driving Course

AAA driver improvement course

For many motorists, their last driving class was back when they first got their license, and that was many moons ago. The fact is, no matter how skilled or experienced you think you are behind the wheel, a refresher couldn’t hurt.

That’s where the AAA Defensive Driving Course comes in. I’ve attended the course both in-class and online and have found it to be an easy way to be a better driver and save on auto insurance.

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Learn more about AAA Defensive Driving Courses and to find out if there is an opportunity to lower your auto insurance rate in your state.

About the AAA Defensive Driving Course

The nationally-recognized AAA Defensive Driving Course is designed to provide the latest safety information and tips regarding traffic laws and basic rules of the road. The six-hour course can be taken in a classroom with a certified instructor or online. Depending on the state, completion of a program may count towards an insurance discount or violation point reduction.

I took the class in New York, where a AAA Defensive Driving course certificate of completion can be presented to your insurance company for 10% off collision, liability and no-fault premiums every year for three years for the principal vehicle operator. Drivers can also receive a reduction of up to four points from their driving record acquired within 18 months prior to the class.

For AAA Northeast members in other states, similar auto insurance benefits are also available in Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Jersey, but not in Massachusetts. Learn more about what is offered in the state that you are licensed in.

AAA driver improvement course

In the Classroom

For two consecutive Thursday nights after work, I went to a local hotel to take the course. I enrolled online and chose to take it over two, three-hour sessions instead of all at once. It was a full class and appeared to be a familiar practice for some, who return every three years to maintain their car insurance benefits.

My instructor was a retired police officer who said he has been teaching the AAA Driver Improvement Course for 14 years. He spoke frankly but friendly and was undeniably knowledgeable about safety and road laws. He began with the question, “What causes crashes?” And from there continued with an eight-chapter workbook and video to answer that question and offer recommendations for prevention.

Topics covered included tips and reminders on vehicle maintenance, what to do in an emergency, traffic signs and road markings, and other basic principles such as avoiding road rage, drowsy driving and impaired driving. After each chapter, there was a short quiz, which the class took and discussed together.

aaa driver improvement course

AAA Defensive Driving Course Online 

For those who would prefer to take the class on their own time, an online version is available. You can take up to 30 days to complete the course, which is interactive, user-friendly and includes all of the same up-to-date research and safety information provided by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety that you get in the classroom.

Set aside an hour or so for a few nights and you’ll be done before you know it. A certificate will be mailed quickly upon completion, so you can get your insurance discount or point reduction as soon as possible if applicable where you live.

AAA Defensive Driving Course

You could qualify for auto insurance savings!

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What You’ll Learn

We all consider ourselves good drivers, but there is always something new to learn. Cars and traffic continue to evolve over the years, and so the AAA Defensive Driving Course is constantly changing too. Distracted driving and texting while driving are some of the top themes touched upon, as well as understanding new vehicle technologies such as blind spot sensors and backup cameras.

Some of the traditional road “rules” and old standbys most of us learned in driver’s ed class have also been rethought. Remember the old 10 and 2 mantra for where to put your hands on the steering wheel? 9 and 3 or 8 and 4 is now the recommended placement as it’s better suited for now-standard power steering.

Overall, the course stresses that being a good driver is not just about your own safety but the safety of others, and that awareness of your own actions is just as important as being alert to what is happening around you.

aaa driver improvement course

Sign Up

Whether you take it for the insurance benefit, point reduction or simply because you want to feel safer on the road, the principles taught in the AAA Defensive Driving Course are valuable for every driver. The course is especially encouraged for teen drivers and senior drivers, who are both more likely to be in a crash.

The course does not take much time, it’s not difficult and it’s useful. And the knowledge that you walk away with – both new and refreshed – will help to keep the roads a little bit safer for everyone.

In-class or online, the AAA Defensive Driving Course is open to everyone, although AAA members are charged a lower fee.

What area of driving do you think is the most important to brush up on? Tell us in the comments below!

Learn more about the courses and benefits in your state and register for a class.

If you’re interested in learning how to drive or want to brush up your skills, we have you covered. The AAA Adult Driver Training Program will turn you into a lifelong safe motorist.

This article has been updated and republished from a previous version. 


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32 Thoughts on “What to Know About the AAA Defensive Driving Course

  1. My son took class, does certificate get sent to BMV automatically for 3 point deduction or does he have to email/mail proof of certification? He Thanks for answering

    1. Hi Lexi, thanks for your question! Your son will need to mail or email the certification of the course completion to their insurance company for the point reduction and any applicable savings. Certification usually comes within two weeks after taking the class.

      1. Will the certificate download automatically upon course completion and if not, how long does it take to be mailed out?

        1. Hi Jennifer, good question! For the online course, the certificate is mailed next day after course completion and can be overnighted at an additional cost. Students in Conn., Mass., N.J. and R.I. have the option to download and print an electronic version, but in New York it’s snail mail only (digital certificates are against New York State DMV regulations).

  2. Trying to do the course on my IPad in Safari (since it wouldn’t work on Google or Google Chrome) and finding it very frustrating and difficult. The timer does not show on the pages I’m reading. The test does not automatically appear when I’ve completed a section. Somehow I have to go out of unit to see the timer. I can’t move on until I’ve done the test. If I can get a refund, it would e much appreciated! Thank you.

    1. Hi, I’ve forwarded your question to our Defensive Driving specialist. Someone should be in touch with you soon.

    1. Hi Robert, for insurance reduction, the validity of a defensive driving completion certificate depends on state law and your insurance carrier. It is valid for 3 years in NY and NJ and 2 years in Conn. and RI. There is no insurance discount or credit in Mass. Thank you for reading! -Marisa

  3. It may be best to start with a desk top computer because my other half and I both glitched out using our cell phones, is the site transferable from cell to desk top?

  4. I enjoyed the online course, in spite of technical difficulties, because It refreshed my knowledge and also learned some more. The answers that had to be dragged to the right sections need to be worked on, I’m sure everyone will have some fun once they work properly.

  5. Looking for class Safe Driving N Atlanta area one session or split classes for my wife and myself. Renew certificate for auto ins. Discount. AAA members

    1. Hi Richard, thanks for reaching out! You’ll have to contact your local AAA to get information on the driving courses they offer in your area. You can find your nearest AAA branch by visiting this page.

    1. Hi William – Thanks for your question! Please visit AAA.com/DefensiveDriving to find out how much a course is in your state. It is not a pass/fail test, you just need to complete the required course hours to get a certificate. -MP

  6. How do I sign up for the defensive driver course , what is the cost and what is the discount from my USAA auto policy ?

      1. Hi Yvonne, visit AAA.com/DefensiveDriving to sign up for a course and learn more about pricing. Please reach out to your insurance provider to find out if a discount is available in your state. Thanks for reading! -Marisa

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