Young drivers are just getting started behind the wheel, and although this is the most exciting age to be driving, it’s also the most dangerous. Thousands of 15 to 20 year old drivers are involved in fatal car crashes each year. In fact, young drivers are involved in fatal crashes at a rate that is double that of all other drivers. But defensive driving programs and supplemental driving education courses such as Alive at 25 can teach young drivers life saving skills that reduce risks and improve safe driving awareness.
Why Students Need Defensive Driving Education
Most young drivers have completed driver training courses. These courses teach essential driving skills and are designed to lay a strong foundation for safe driving. But if it’s been a year or two, or you’ve had an accident or been issued a ticket, it’s probably a good idea to take a defensive driving course. Students often take defensive driving courses for:
- Improved safety and driving skills
- New law updates
- Refreshing skills
- Insurance discounts
In addition to defensive driving education, young drivers should consider enrolling in an Alive at 25 course. These courses have been found to improve the confidence and safety of young drivers as they teach students about many of the hazards that drivers in this age group typically face.
Are You Eligible for Defensive Driving Education?
While many people wait to take defensive driving until they’re issued a ticket — and then use defensive driving courses to remove or reduce their penalty for the ticket — anyone can enroll in a defensive driving course. Defensive driving courses are open to drivers of all ages and skill levels, and can be a helpful educational resource whether you’ve had a driving problem or not.
If you’re taking defensive driving to remove or reduce a ticket penalty, the number of defensive driving courses you can take for a ticket may be restricted by the state. Defensive driving may not be available for all offenses, either. Investigate state specific information to determine whether or not you should be eligible to complete defensive driving for your ticket.
Defensive driving courses can also be applied to insurance discounts, particularly if you don’t have a ticket to deal with. While many insurance companies offer defensive driving discounts exclusively to elderly drivers, some offer them to all adults. Contact your insurance company to determine if they encourage safe driving habits with defensive driving course discounts for young adults and students.
Defensive Driving Courses Available
While some states offer the same type of defensive driving course for all drivers, others have different levels and specialties depending on your situation. Specialty defensive driving courses that students or young adults might take include:
- Driver attitude programs: Young adults who have exhibited problems with road rage may be order to take a driver attitude program by a judge. This course will teach you how to avoid becoming overly emotional while driving, and learn how to be more courteous and safe on the road.
- Smart driver courses: Typically offered to drivers under 21 years of age who have accumulated points on their driving record, this course is designed to improve driving skills and remind drivers of potential conflicts and risks on the road. Many students take this course to avoid suspension of a driver’s license or satisfy employment requirements.
- Alive at 25: Geared specifically toward young student drivers, Alive at 25 will teach you about the most dangerous risks that drivers under 25 will face on the road — and how to avoid them.
What You’ll Learn in Defensive Driving Education Courses
Defensive driving courses are designed to teach drivers of all ages how to drive more safely using defensive tactics including awareness, speed reduction, and designated driving. Some of the most important topics covered in defensive driving education courses include:
- How to avoid accidents
- How to drive near heavy trucks
- How to deal with road rage
- How alcohol, drugs, and drowsiness impact your driving abilities
- How to focus and avoid distractions while driving
Tips for Student Drivers
Young adults are the most at risk group of drivers, and that means student drivers should be extra careful and vigilant of distractions, reckless driving habits, and other issues that are often dangerous problems for this age group. If you’re a student driver, keep these tips in mind for safer driving habits:
- Reduce or eliminate distractions: This is perhaps the most difficult problem for young drivers. Passengers, cell phones, GPS, radio, and just plain daydreaming can take your focus off the road when moments count.
- Obey the speed limit: As a young driver, it’s normal to feel excited about driving — you may even feel like you own the road! But you don’t. Stay at or below posted speeds, as speeding is a leading contributor to fatal teen accidents.
- Be especially aware at school: Other students are new drivers, just like you. Inexperienced drivers can be dangerous, so be extra careful when driving in school parking lots and on streets near campus.
- Never drive under the influence: Avoid drunk or impaired driving, and don’t accept rides from other drivers who may be impaired. It’s always worth it to designate a driver, call a cab, or call your family for help — it could save your life.
- Invest in a safe car: Buy the safest car you can afford. Ideally, your vehicle will have advanced safety features like anti-lock brakes, airbags, and electronic stability control.
- Be aware: Pay attention to traffic, weather, and road conditions. You never know what’s up ahead!
How to Find a Defensive Driving Education Program
Ready to start your defensive driving education course? Visit our directory to learn about driving schools in your state and their available programs for students and young adults.