No one gets behind the wheel of a car with the goal of being a dangerous driver. That said, there are driving habits and behaviors that everyone is guilty of (often without realizing it) that increase the odds of getting into a traffic accident. So it’s in everyone’s best interest to try to be the safest drivers that he or she possibly can.
One way to achieve that goal is to enroll in an online drivers’ education course (even before you get a ticket!) John McGrane is the social media director for idrivesafely.com, a website which provides several types of these courses in over two dozen states. We asked him to tell us how Americans can become safer drivers.
What was the impetus behind idrivesafely.com?
I DRIVE SAFELY started when the two co-founders Gari Garimella and Rick Hernandez each received a speeding ticket back in 1998. At the time, the only option for getting the ticket removed from your record was taking an 8-hour traffic course in a classroom on the weekends. They wanted to create a more effective way of taking traffic school. I DRIVE SAFELY is now approved in more than 25 states.
What makes your site different from most other online driving course sites?
I DRIVE SAFELY’s ultimate goal consists of three main components: knowledge, behavior, and skills. Improving skills comes through getting in a car and practicing, but I DRIVE SAFELY helps build drivers’ knowledge of safe driving habits, which will ultimately affect behavior. I DRIVE SAFELY is highly invested in creating a world full of better drivers. Most other online driving courses are simply putting together the minimum amount of information necessary to gain approval from any given state.
Are most driving courses just a rehashing of the same information that drivers learned in driving school classes when they were teenagers?
No. Most online defensive driving schools simply repeat what is on their state’s teen drivers’ education course, which is usually a copy of what is in their state’s DMV handbook. I DRIVE SAFELY hires top subject matter experts to create interactive courses and content which are highly recognized in the industry.
What do you say to people who tell you, "I’ll just pay the speeding ticket. It’s not worth the hassle of taking a driving course."?
It is much better in the long run to take traffic school to have the ticket erased from your record. Not only do you get a refresher course in traffic laws and safety, but the impacts of getting a traffic ticket last much longer after the original infraction. Not only do you have to pay the fine, but your auto insurance company is sure to raise your monthly premiums. The most common ticket in the U.S. is speeding 1 to 14 mph over the speed limit and that will raise your rates an average of 11%. These spikes in your premiums can last years and cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars over time.
What do you say to people who tell you, "I don’t have four consecutive hours to spend in front of a computer taking a driving course."?
One of the many advantages of an online driving course like I DRIVE SAFELY is that you can take it whenever you do have time and complete the course a little bit at a time. Taking a course online doesn’t restrict you to a strict schedule like taking an 8-hour course in a classroom.
In recent months (or years), have you noticed any trends in the types of moving violations issued or the demographics of people who are in need of driver’s safety courses? Or do those categories remain fairly constant?
We haven’t noticed any trends in terms of the type of traffic violations being issued. However, one trend that we have seen is that more and more teens are opting not to take Drivers’ Ed and are waiting until they are 18 years old to get their license because most states do not require adults to take a Drivers’ Education class. This is worrisome because more and more people are getting on the road for the first time without completing proper drivers’ education and safety training. The two primary causes for this trend can be attributed to the rising cost of gas and the fact that drivers’ education has been removed from the public education system in the United States.
What are some of the most dangerous driving practices that are prevalent today in America?
Speeding and driving under the influence have always been big problems in the United States (and continue to be), but distracted driving is quickly becoming an epidemic. Texting while driving, talking on the phone, and other distractions have sharply escalated over the last year and are responsible for more and more collisions.
What benefits does a driving course provide other than addressing an outstanding traffic ticket?
When you consider what we identified to be the three fundamentals of driving — knowledge, behavior, and skills — taking a driving course improves your knowledge of traffic laws and safety tips. Participating in a driving course is a proactive way of increasing your safety and the safety of others while on the roads. We highly recommend that everyone take at least one drivers’ education course, even if it is not required by law in your state. There are also states which will allow drivers (usually over a certain age) to take an online defensive driving class in exchange for having their monthly insurance premium reduced. This is another great benefit of taking a online driving course.
Where do you see your website in 3 to 5 years?
We want to become a lifetime partner for safe driving with our customers. We offer courses at every stage of a driver’s life — from teen drivers’ education to senior insurance premium reduction programs. I DRIVE SAFELY is already the industry leader, and as our user base grows and we offer more courses, we plan to become a household name in the near future.
We have made substantial investment in drivers’ education content and technology, and we are dedicated to staying focused on our goal of reducing collisions and being the industry leader. If you would like to learn more about our courses, please visit www.idrivesafely.com. If you become a Friend of I DRIVE SAFELY on Facebook, you will save 20% on any course you take!