What is Traffic School?

Traffic school is a common term for traffic safety courses. Depending on the state or locale it can be called different names, some examples are Driver Improvement Course, Defensive Driving Course, Traffic Safety Course etc.

Why Traffic School?

The main reason most people take traffic school is for diversion of a traffic ticket. In other words, it's a part of a plea with the court with the incentive of reducing their traffic ticket fine or not reporting it to the DMV (thus helping to keep insurance premium rates lower) by completing an approved driver improvement course. Incentives vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but the concept is the same. All traffic schools are private entities and charge a fee. Courses range from four to eight hours and, depending on jurisdiction and local rules, can be taken online or in the classroom.

Who Regulates Traffic Schools?

Again, depending on the local jurisdiction, traffic schools can be regulated by a local court or be a part of a state-wide program. Some of the larger state-wide traffic school programs are:
  • Arizona Defensive Driving Program - Arizona Supreme Court - Ticket dismissal
  • California Traffic Violator School Program (TVS) - California DMV - Ticket dismissal and point
  • masking
  • Florida Basic Driver Improvement Program (BDI) - Florida DMV - Ticket dismissal and point
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  • Idaho Traffic Safety Program - Idaho DMV - Negligent Drivers with multiple traffic tickets
  • New Jersey Defensive Driver Program - NJ DMV - Point and Insurance Reduction
  • New York Defensive Driving Program - NY DMV - Point and Insurance Reduction Program ((PIRP)
  • Texas Defensive Driving Course - Texas Education Agency (TEA) - Ticket dismissal, insurance
  • reduction and point masking

Is There a Difference between Online Traffic School and a classroom course?

Other than the obvious, all programs must follow the same rules and guidelines, and are very similar. Most of the traffic school courses that are taught online are a combination of text, audio and video and require a short exit quiz at the end of the course. The type of presentation and difficulty will vary from school-to-school. However, time and passing score requirements are dictated by the licensing authority and are the same for all traffic schools.

What are the typical subjects covered in traffic school?

A typical traffic school course is designed to be a refresher driving course for an experienced driver to stress the importance of basic driving rules and techniques. Topics will include:
  • State Driving Rules
  • Defensive Driving Techniques
  • Accident Prevention Techniques
  • Consequences of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
  • Coping with Aggressive Driving and Road Rage
My, how things have changed. While common sense driving and basic driving rules probably have not changed much since you got your first driver license, there are certain issues that are specific to certain decades. For example, if you got your license 20 years ago or more, cell phone use wasn't as big of an issue as it is currently since most drivers now have one. Distracted driving is an ever growing problem which has eclipsed driving under the influence of alcohol. The latest statistics show that over 400,000 auto crashes were caused by distracted drivers using their cell phones. Also, every year state and local legislatures pass a myriad of new traffic laws that can affect your driving privileges. So as you can see, traffic school may have many positive benefits. Good Luck and Safe Motoring!

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