Online Drivers Ed vs In Person Classes

Last Updated: July 31, 2023 |
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Did you know that motor vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of death for United States teens? Unfortunately, this troubling statistic isn’t confined to teens. Accidents caused by driver error account for a great many injuries and fatalities across the age range. So what can we do to prevent these types of awful situations?

One solution is in-person or online drivers ed courses. Whether you’re a teen, adult, or elder, you can always benefit from a driving course refresher. However, deciding between in-person classes and online courses can be a challenge for some people.

If you’re wondering which option is right for you, then you’re in the right place In this article we’ll discuss both options and go into detail about the pros and cons that come with each of them. Let’s get started!

What Are In-Person Drivers Ed Classes?

In-person classes require you to physically show up to a classroom to be taught driver education. The hours for these types of classes are strict and their length depends on state specifications. In some cases, a behind-the-wheel portion of the class may be included with the in-person class. Others simply offer a stand-alone classroom portion.

To offer these classes, private instructors must first receive official approval from the state DMV. Some school districts may also offer in-person driver ed classes. However, this is becoming increasingly uncommon. These days, private driving schools are becoming increasingly common. 

What Are Online Drivers Ed Classes?

Online driver ed courses take place entirely on the internet. These types of classes are much more flexible for people since they can complete them on their own time. What’s more, they can usually access the course of multiple devices, like laptops, tablets, and smartphones. This makes them a better option for people with a busy schedule.

Most of the time, a behind-the-wheel portion isn’t included for online courses. However, as long as the course is approved by the state, then it’s legitimate. Online driver ed classes are becoming increasingly popular due to their convenience. As such, we can expect to see a continued rise in their attendance. 

Why Do I Need to Take a Driver Ed Course?

You may be asking yourself, is drivers ed necessary? Well, if you want to take a driver’s exam for a license in most states, then it usually is. Thirty-two different states require you to get through an approved course before you can even take the written or practical exam. Other states require you to take an education course after you get your license.

As such, you should look up the laws in your specific state. However, testing requirements aren’t the only reason you should consider taking a drivers ed course. This type of education is instrumental in preventing future accidents. One study found that drivers ed significantly reduced the instances of teen crashes and tickets.

And this doesn’t just extend to teenagers. If you aren’t a confident driver, then an educational course can help you improve significantly. So, don’t be afraid to sign up. If you want to learn more about the different types of driving courses available to students, then make sure to check out this guide here

Pros and Cons of In-Person Drivers Ed Classes

In-person classes have long been praised for their sense of interactivity. However, a rigid schedule can make it difficult for people with different learning styles and time restrictions. In this section, we’ll discuss the pros that come with an in-person class, as well as the cons. Let’s start with the advantages. 


There’s a lot to like about in-person classes. For one thing, the in-person nature makes it much easier for interaction to occur. For example, if a student has questions at any time the instructor can answer them quickly. In this way, in-person schools offer more immediate access to the educational material.

Most students are also used to the classroom setting that these classes take place in. As such, they’re typically primed to succeed in the course. In-person classes are generally more strict in terms of their licensing requirements.

As such, you’re more likely to receive a quality instructor and a good education. If the in-person class is being offered by your high school, then it’s typically convenient to attend before or after the school day begins. 


Unfortunately, in-person driving classes aren’t always ideal. Many people may have difficulty making it to the set schedules offered by the class. This is especially true if the person works a job before or after school. Other individuals might have trouble with the classroom session. Drivers ed courses tend to be long and technical.

When you combine this with the end of a long day, then it’s easy to see how students can doze off and not pay attention. Finally, in-person classes tend to be more expensive than online courses. Sometimes this is because a driving portion of the course is included with the classroom. However, most of the time you should expect to pay a little more for in-person courses. 

Pros and Cons of Online Drivers Ed Classes

Online driver ed classes are more flexible and convenient than their in-person counterparts. However, a lack of interactivity can make it easy to get distracted. In this section, we’ll break apart the pros that come with an online class, as well as the cons. Let’s start with the advantages. 


As we mentioned, the biggest plus that comes with online drivers ed courses is convenience. As long as you can connect to the internet, you can take the course from the comfort of any location. Plus, online classes are available 24/7. So, it’s no problem if you have a busy schedule that changes often. In addition to this, you also save money on transportation costs, like gas and parking.

Finally, if you prefer a self-teaching environment, then you will love online drivers ed classes. Some students thrive when they’re able to engage with the material on their own time, at their own pace. These same individuals might get burned out, or overwhelmed, in an in-person class.

Online classes are more affordable too. This makes it an ideal educational option for families working around low-income budgets. What’s more, online drivers ed courses are typically more flexible with payment options.

For example, some courses only require you to pay a portion of the price upfront. Then, when you complete the course, you pay for the rest of it. That way, you don’t waste any money on unfinished courses. 


While online drivers ed is more flexible, it also usually takes longer to complete. What’s more, many students, especially teens, may have trouble paying attention to the material. This is due to the lack of interactivity in the online medium. It’s easy to get distracted by smartphones or social media when taking this type of class.

Unfortunately, online driving schools aren’t as regulated as in-person options. As a result, the quality of education may suffer. Oftentimes, you can supplement this poor education with guides on safe driving.

Or, you can do research and make sure that the reviews and state approval come with the online course. However, some may not want to potentially waste money on an inferior course. 

Which Option Is Safer For COVID-19?

Since there are currently over thirty million people infected with COVID-19, this is a factor that needs to be considered when choosing a driving class. Many in-person classes have taken health precautions. This includes safety measures like socially distanced desks, required face masks, and frequent sanitation.

However, at the end of the day, an online class is more ideal for the current COVID-19 era. This is because it is completely socially distanced. As such, there’s no risk of infection. As vaccines become more widely distributed we can expect a gradual return to in-person classes. However, until that time comes online courses will likely remain the more popular option. 

Looking For Drivers Ed Classes? Check Out Defensive Driving

We hope this article helped you learn which option is better for you: in-person classes or online drivers ed courses. Regardless of your decision, the most important factor when choosing a driving education is finding a good local school or online course to register with. Unfortunately, not all driving schools are created equally.

So, how do you find an option you know will provide a quality driving education? Simple: explore Defensive Driving. We carry guides with local driving schools found in cities across the country.

If you prefer online courses, then you can take advantage of our wide selection — each tailored to the state where you currently reside. Or, simply explore our DMV handbook material.