With an aging population there are more drivers over the age of 70 in America today than at any point in our history. In 2018, data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) showed that there were approximately 29 million licensed drivers aged 70 or older. Knowing this, many states have started offering auto insurance discounts for older adults who pass a senior driving course. Two of the more popular options include the AAA Senior Driving Course and the Mature Driver Improvement Course from I Drive Safely.
States that offer safe driving discounts for seniors
Insurance companies certainly have their motivations for putting safe drivers on the road regardless of age, and many states have jumped on the bandwagon. The following states have all mandated that insurance companies provide discounts to people who pass safe-driving classes.
- New Jersey
- New Mexico (only for drivers 50 and older)
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- Washington, D.C.
- West Virginia
While discounts are mandated in the states listed above, many insurance carriers still offer discounts in other states. These discounts may vary by state and by individual insurance carrier, so you may want to contact your insurance company directly for more details or check out their websites. These are the current discounts available to drivers for passing a driver improvement course or a defensive driving course by some of the most popular insurance companies.
- Allstate – maximum 10% discount
- Esurance – 5% for seniors
- Geico – 5%
- Hartford – maximum 10% discount
- Liberty Mutual – 5%
- Nationwide – 5%
- Progressive – 5%
- State Farm – maximum 10%
- USAA – 5%
Are there other benefits of defensive driving courses for seniors?
Outside of lower insurance rates from many states and providers, these courses may also remove points or violations from your driving record. So, in addition to the automatic discounts you may receive in your rate, cleaning up your driving record may also reduce your auto insurance premiums.
Of course, passing a refresher driving course for seniors usually means you’ll end up being a better driver. Esurance data showed that seniors who completed such a course showed that approximately 80% of drivers avoid crashes or citations over the next five years.
How do you sign up for a senior driving course?
Signing up for a senior driving course is remarkably easy. These are some of the most popular online options for seniors.
- AAA’s Roadwise senior defensive driving program
- AARP Smart Driver online course
- I Drive Safely’s Insurance Discount Course
The programs above allow you to sign up, pay, and take a course online. However, if you don’t have consistent internet access, or simply prefer taking a class in person, there are options for that as well. AAA offers mature operator courses, but only in select areas. They recommend contacting your local AAA office to inquire about options for in-person courses. Alternately, you may also want to contact local driving schools in your area. Accredited local programs may also offer defensive driving courses or senior-specific classes that will qualify you for an insurance discount.
How much does a defensive driving class for seniors cost?
Most online courses are relatively inexpensive. Depending on the provider, you might even be able to get a discount. AARP, for example, regularly offers discounts that you can take advantage of when you initially register.
Typical costs (as of 2021) for these programs are as follows:
- AAA – $15.95 for members, $19.95 for non-members
- AARP – $21.95 for members, $27.95 for non-members
- I Drive Safely – $19.95 (you can get a 10% discount through seniordiscounts.com)
What to expect from a senior driving course
Before signing up for a senior driving course you may wish to research the program a bit more to see if it provides the type of instruction you’re looking for. Depending on the program, you may cover all, or only a portion of topics such as:
- Dealing with vision and hearing loss
- Managing medications
- General driving safety practices
- Dealing with distractions
- Managing road rage
- Using new automobile technologies
If there is a specific area you would like covered, you may want to call the provider and make sure that topic is included within their program.
The importance of driving for seniors
Driving is an important symbol of independence for many older adults. Each year older adults and their loved ones wrestle with decisions about limiting or ceasing driving altogether.
Our driving skills and abilities inevitably change as we grow older. Older adults rarely drive with the reckless abandon they do in their teens. It’s common for drivers to become more conservative as they age, but it’s also important to stay aware of physical changes that can impact your driving ability. Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation shows that after the age of 70, the likelihood of fatal car crashes begins to increase steadily. Knowing this, it’s important to be proactive to ensure your safety and the safety of others when you get behind the wheel.
Driver’s safety tips for older drivers
As the numbers indicate, there are clearly greater risks for drivers once they get into their 70s. When we get older, we all have to deal with a greater number of medical conditions, slower reflexes and physical deterioration including our vision and hearing, and all of these impact our ability to drive. Of course, taking part in a mature driver course is a great idea, but what else can older drivers do to keep their skills sharp? These ten tips can go a long way toward helping older drivers maintain their mental and physical acumen while behind the wheel.
Source: IlluminAge Communication Partners; copyright 2019 IlluminAge
Useful links for senior drivers
The following links have been curated from around the internet and provide further information that may prove useful to senior drivers.
- Senior guide to auto insurance from the DMV.
- Community Transportation Association of America dedicated to improving mobility to reduce isolation for people of all ages.
- Elderly driving laws by state from Michigan Auto Law.
- Senior Driving from AAA.
- Making the decision to stop driving from Talk Early, Talk Often.