Last updated: March 2023
Everyone wants cheaper car insurance. Luckily, there's one way to potentially lower your auto insurance premium that does not involve too much work—traffic school! Find out how completing traffic school could help lower your car insurance rates or keep them from rising following a traffic violation. You might even discover that going back to school isn't so bad after all.
What is Traffic School?
The broad term "traffic school" refers to any formal program that sharpens your driving knowledge and skills. Traffic school courses can be taught online or in a physical classroom setting. This type of education goes by different names, such as “driving safety classes” or “defensive driving courses.”
Generally, judges will require drivers to take defensive driving courses after receiving tickets for moving violations, such as running a stop sign or speeding. Successful completion of traffic school could help you avoid or erase negative points on your driving record. In some states and circumstances, defensive driving courses are a way to get your traffic fines dismissed or reduced. Plus, traffic school may prevent your car insurance rates from going up by keeping moving violations off your record!
If your driving history is spotless, your driving skills and insurance rates may improve if you voluntarily complete traffic school.
When is traffic school required?
The type of traffic violations that traffic school may help you (and your driving record) recover from varies from state to state.
In Florida, for example, traffic school (officially known as Basic Driver Improvement, or BDI) is mandatory if you are:
- Found to be at fault for an accident that sent a motorist to a hospital for treatment.
- Involved in two crashes within a two-year period that resulted in a motorist being taken to a hospital for treatment.
- Convicted of passing a school bus when it was displaying a stop signal or running a red light.
- Caught racing on a highway, watching a street race, or otherwise driving recklessly.
Any Driver Improvement School attended by a Florida driver must be approved by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Otherwise, you won't be able to reap the driving record benefits from your training.
In Texas, traffic school is known as either driving safety or defensive driving. Successful graduation from a Texas traffic school can result in dismissal of a court case arising from moving violations like:
- Speeding at least 25 mph above the posted speed limit or traveling at more than 94 mph.
- Failing to maintain insurance.
- Leaving the scene of an accident.
- Passing a stopped school bus.
- Committing a traffic offense in a construction zone where workers are present.
Any driver safety course in Texas must comply with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, or you won't be able to reap its legal benefits.
"In most situations, if you go to traffic school, you can avoid stiff fines and increased insurance rates, and keep your record clean, "says FindLaw.com. However, be sure to look up traffic schools in your state of residence to learn more.
Is Traffic School Available Online?
Many states authorize both online and in-person instruction. Check with your state's DMV, your county's court, or your city's municipal court to find out more about your traffic school options.
How Long Does Traffic School Take?
The length of traffic school differs from state to state. In Texas, for instance, an online course lasts five hours while an in-person class lasts six hours. In Florida, both the online and in-person classes last four hours.
How Much Does Traffic School Cost?
The price of traffic school fluctuates depending on where you live and whether the class is online or in person. Run a search to see what the exact rates are for an approved class where you live. Generally speaking, though, the cost for these classes is often less than $100.
Can Traffic School Lower Your Car Insurance Rates?
Yes! In certain instances, completing an approved traffic school can help lower your car insurance rates or prevent them from going up. That's because completing traffic school can sometimes help keep a ticket off your driving record, which is good news when it comes to car insurance rates.
Receiving a traffic violation can cause your car insurance rates to go up for a certain period (but not forever). That's because insurers routinely review your driving record to look for any indication—like a traffic ticket—that you're a riskier driver than you were before.
If your insurer considers you a risky driver, then you're likely to pay a higher premium. These car insurance rate hikes don't happen overnight, though! If you get a traffic violation, you’ll most likely see a jump in your insurance premiums next time you renew your policy. On the other hand, if you successfully finish traffic school, your insurer might give you a discount rather than raise your rates. After all, you've studied to become a better, less-risky driver—and a good insurance company should reward you for it!
In the end, no matter where you live and drive, traffic school tends to cost less than an increase in your car insurance rates. Search for traffic schools near your location and look for a state-approved course to help keep your driving record clean or potentially qualify for an auto insurance discount.
How Much Does Defensive Driving Lower Insurance?
Are you interested in taking a defensive driving course to get lower car insurance? Wondering how much you can expect to save? It’s hard to say exactly how much it will be, but it can be substantial. For example, Forbes analysis says the average rate increase following a speeding ticket is 24% which equates to $380 each year. In other words, you could be saving hundreds of dollars annually, even after you factor in the cost of traffic school.
Defensive Driving Course Discount
As we mentioned above, some insurers offer some form of driver education discount* to policyholders who complete approved traffic schools. While discount availability and amounts vary from company to company (with Direct, it’s up to 10%), it could lead to serious savings on an annual basis.
Life After Traffic School
Are points on your driving record keeping you from cheap car insurance? Don't settle for an insurance company that doesn't bother to understand your situation. Direct Auto Insurance works with many drivers—including ones who need to fulfill SR-22 requirements or are required to complete traffic school. We know that life happens, and we're here for you regardless of your driving history. Call, click, or come into your local Direct Auto for a free car insurance quote from a company that understands you!