In a growing number of communities and states, people are allowed to attend online defensive driving classes as an alternative to in-person courses to satisfy traffic court requirements. Likewise, many car insurance companies grant premium discounts to people who attend online defensive driving courses.
As with an in-person course, a good virtual defensive driving class should cover topics such as driver awareness, accident avoidance, and the dangers of driving while impaired or distracted. Unlike an in-person course, an online defensive driving class should offer the ability to be completed in just a few hours, from the comfort of home or on a mobile device.
Best Overall : Improv
Improv is a company that uses comedy to help its lessons stick, earning it our choice as the best overall online defensive driving school.
Certificate emailed within 30 minutes
Not approved in every state
Improv brings a comedic touch to the curriculum to make it more entertaining and effective. We like a company that can transform something that’s often dreaded into something fun. Improv also boasts very high online customer reviews.
Despite its light tone, Improve offers a solid defensive driving course with specific curriculums that vary based on state requirements. Coursework covers the mental factors behind good driving, the importance of a clear state of mind behind the wheel, distracted driving, the impact of drugs and alcohol on a driver’s judgment, what to do if in an accident, and more.
The online course is also mobile-friendly, so it can be completed at your convenience. Improv doesn’t publish a nationwide average time to completion but mentions that its California course can be completed in four hours, which is in line with other providers.
The cost of Improv’s online course varies by state, running from about $20 to $40. Certificates are sent by email within 30 minutes of course completion, with an original sent by U.S. mail. It’s not clear that the coursework is approved by every state to satisfy court requirements, so check with your DMV before using Improv if you’re looking to have a ticket removed or points reduced.
Best for College Students : Go To Traffic School
Go To Traffic School is our pick for college students, thanks to its generous payment policy and low cost.
Payment not due until final exam
Unlimited attempts to pass final exam
Multiple options for receiving the certificate
Not DMV-approved in every state
Negative reviews around certificate shipping
If you’re like many college students, you might be on a tight budget. So if you need to take a defensive driving course, you’d be smart to check out Go To Traffic School. Not only does the company promote itself as having the lowest prices, but its generous payment policy means you don’t have to pay until you take the final exam.
As with most of the online defensive driving classes we looked at, costs vary by state. A sample of states had a range of $13 to $65. Courses combine animated videos, audio clips, 3D driving simulations, and text lessons. They can also be done on any computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, which is handy for the connected college student on the go. Certificates are sent by mail, with options for expedited delivery. Note that some of the negative reviews we saw were for issues related to certificate shipping (delays, wrong addresses, etc.).
If you’re intending to use Go To Traffic School to satisfy a DMV requirement or to get an insurance discount, double-check that the course is approved by the state or insurer. Go To Traffic School states that it’s currently approved in 25 states.
Best for New Drivers : I Drive Safely
I Drive Safely offers unlimited retakes on its final exam and up to 180 days to complete its course. These features make it attractive to drivers without much experience behind the wheel who might need to work very deliberately through a virtual defensive driving course.
Unlimited exam retakes
Up to 180 days to complete the course
Multiple options for certificate delivery
Courses in some states cost close to $50
I Drive Safely has served more than 5 million customers and enjoys generally positive reviews online, including an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Customer service is available seven days a week.
I Drive Safely is a good choice for new drivers who might need a little more time to navigate a defensive driving curriculum. It offers up to 180 days to complete the course along with the opportunity to retake the final exam unlimited times during that period. For a small fee, drivers can also take exam practice tests. New drivers can even access free content on the company website, including articles and tip sheets covering various aspects of driving.
The company’s main offerings include courses in defensive driving, driver improvement, and traffic school. All are designed to help drivers meet various state requirements. The courses can also be used to qualify for auto insurance discounts.
Course length and cost vary by state. Some can be completed in about an hour while some last up to eight hours. Course costs range between $30 and $50. Certificates are sent via U.S. mail, but they also offer expedited delivery for an extra cost as well as emailed certificates.
Best for Seniors : AARP Smart Driver
The AARP Smart Driver course is the nation’s leading defensive driving course specifically designed for drivers ages 50 and older. That makes it our choice for the best online defensive driving course for seniors.
Designed specifically for seniors
In-person courses also available
More expensive for non-members
60 days for completion; less than some competitors
The AARP is the country’s largest and most prestigious organization representing the interests of seniors, so it’s no wonder that it would offer a virtual defensive driving course tailored to the needs of those over 50.
AARP’s Smart Driver course takes four to eight hours to complete, depending on the state. Its curriculum includes reducing distractions; proper use of modern safety equipment such as airbags, anti-lock brakes, and high-tech collision avoidance features; the effect of medication on driving; how to adjust one’s driving to compensate for age-related physical changes; and more.
The course is available to AARP members at the modest cost of $21.95. Non-members can benefit from the course for just $6 more. AARP allows 60 days for completion, which is a little less than some competitors. However, it also offers a full refund during those 60 days if you decide that you don’t wish to finish. The certificate of completion is sent via U.S. mail but can be expedited at additional cost.
Read our full AARP Company Review.
Best for Teens : AAA How to Drive
AAA How to Drive is a program tailored to the needs of young drivers and is our pick as the best online defensive driving course for teens. AAA also offers an optional session that parents can view to get more information about the process of learning to drive.
Optional virtual parent session
Modestly priced at $24.95
Not approved by any U.S. state
No certificate available
25-hour course length may be daunting to some
AAA is one of the most well-known and trusted brands in the country and has been looking out for the interests of drivers of all ages for over a century. Teen drivers looking for a thorough immersion in defensive driving would likely be well served by How to Drive.
AAA How to Drive is a course that’s tailored to the needs of teen drivers. Designed to supplement standard driver education, this virtual defensive driving course aims to foster safer driving attitudes; improved hazard recognition; and better management of visibility, time, and space in traffic. Its ultimate goal is to create positive habits that teen drivers can carry for their entire life behind the wheel.
At 25 hours, the course is the longest we’ve seen, which might be a deterrence to young drivers. However, the curriculum is self-paced, integrating video, synchronous presentations, simulations, and interactive exercises. The program encourages parental involvement as well, through an optional session that helps mom and dad better understand the process of learning to drive.
AAA’s course does not appear to be approved in any states as an acceptable defensive driving course to remove points from a driving record. It also offers no certificate upon completion. Check with your insurance company to see if it offers any discounts for completing the course.
Read our full AAA Car Insurance Review.
Best for Experienced Drivers : Aceable
Aceable offers a good combination of price, duration, and course features. It also enjoys overall positive customer reviews. For those reasons, it’s our pick as the best online defensive driving course for experienced drivers.
Certification approved by state DMVs
Can be completed quickly
Available only in four states
Aceable has much to offer an experienced driver looking for an online defensive driving course. It’s only offered in four states, so if you happen to be in California, Florida, Indiana, or Texas, you’ll want to give this company full consideration.
Aceable’s course fee varies by the state, ranging from $25 to $55. This makes it competitive with many other offerings. The company touts its course durations as the “shortest allowed by law in each state,” so you can complete a class, get a certificate, and get on with your life.
The Aceable class is not only online, but mobile-friendly, so you can attend via desktop, tablet, or smartphone. The company provides certificates via hard copy by U.S. mail except in California where proof of completion is sent electronically to the DMV.
Aceable also enjoys very positive customer reviews. In Trustpilot ratings, for instance, 91% rate the company as “Excellent,” while 8% rate it as “Great.”
Improv transforms something that’s often dreaded into something engaging and fun, all while helping you become a better and safer driver. The curriculum provides everything you’d expect, from the dangers of distracted driving to the importance of having a clear mindset behind the wheel. The class is mobile-friendly, so you can complete it at your convenience, and it’s priced very competitively.
Compare the Best Online Defensive Driving Courses
|Company||Cost||Duration||Topics Covered||Platforms Available||States Available|
|$20–$40||4+ hours||Distracted and impaired driving, accidents||PC, Mac, tablet, smartphone||50|
|Go To Traffic School
Best for College Students
|$13–$65||8 hours||Satisfies court orders and removes points||PC, Mac, tablet, smartphone||25|
|I Drive Safely
Best for New Drivers
|$29.95–$48.95||8 hours||Defensive driving, hazards, drunk driving||PC, Mac, tablet, smartphone||50|
|AARP Smart Driver
Best for Seniors
|$21.95 ($27.95 non-AARP members)||4–8 hours||Distractions, effects of medications, driving habits||PC, Mac||50|
|AAA How to Drive
Best for Teens
|$24.95||25 hours||Safer driving, hazards, visibility management||PC, Mac||50|
Best for Experienced Drivers
|$25–$55||4–6 hours||For ticket dismissal and premium discounts||PC, Mac, tablet, smartphone||4|
How to Choose the Best Online Defensive Driving Class
When reviewing online defensive driving course options, be sure to keep these points in mind:
- The course is available in your state: While many courses are available nationwide, some providers are currently only in a limited number of states.
- The course satisfies state/insurance requirements: Check with your DMV to ensure the course can be used to remove a ticket or reduce points on your driving record. Likewise, be sure to check with your insurance company to see if the course is accepted for any policy discounts. You’ll want to do this before you spend any money or time with an online defensive driving class provider.
- The course is easy to access: Most online defensive driving courses are accessible by computer and are mobile-friendly. Make sure the course you’re considering works with the devices you want to use.
- The course is affordable: Online defensive driving courses range in cost from around $15 to $60.
- The course can be completed in a timely fashion: Most courses take from four to eight hours to complete.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I Complete Online Defensive Driving Classes at My Own Pace?
The many benefits of an online defensive driving course include the option to start and stop as you please and the likelihood of accessing the course from multiple devices. This is in contrast with an in-person course, which happens at a specific place and time and not necessarily in line with your schedule.
What Topics Are Involved in Online Defensive Driving Classes?
Topics may vary by state based on local requirements. In general, however, you can expect an online defensive driving class to cover topics such as awareness of the road, distracted driving, and avoiding accidents.
Are Online Defensive Driving Classes Worth it?
Online defensive driving classes are worth it if you're looking for low cost and convenience. While in-person defensive driving courses may cost upward of $100, the most expensive online options cost a little more than half that. You can also save up to 20% on your car insurance premium with certain providers by taking a class and presenting the certificate of completion to the insurer.
Who Accepts Certificates of Completion for Online Defensive Driving Classes?
This varies by state and insurance company. Always check with your DMV or insurer to make sure the course will satisfy their requirements. Be sure to do this before spending money or time on the course.
We looked at nine leading providers of online defensive driving courses. Assuming many people prefer to use an online school to save money and time, we looked at each provider’s cost (base rate, before any promotions) and class duration.
We also compared how each provider sends out their course completion certificate (if applicable), knowing that many customers need this to provide proof of completion to their DMV.
Finally, we compared the providers based on other features, such as how a course may be tailored to a specific audience. With this approach, we decided on the best providers in each category and the best provider overall.