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Difference between defensive driving school and driving school

New York has three different types of driving schools: driver's ed, pre-licensing courses and defensive driving. What are the differences between the different types of driving schools, and how do you know which one is right for you? Here's a quick primer to help you tell the difference: 

  • Driver's education: Driver's education schools teach new teen drivers how to drive. As such, they last much longer than any other type of driving school, include more basic information about how to operate an automobile, and also include a behind-the-wheel component to help new drivers practice their skills. Driver’s ed courses are offered in high schools and colleges. Driver’s ed is not required to get a New York driver’s licensing, but students have the option of taking it instead of a pre-licensing course in order to get more practice.
  • Pre-licensing Programs: Pre-licensing programs are 5 hour classroom-only courses that new teen drivers must take before they can take the road test to get their driver’s license. You don’t have to take a pre-licensing course if you’ve already taken driver’s ed.
  • Defensive driving: New York defensive driving classes are offered on a voluntary basis to people who wish to have points removed from their driving record or who wish to receive an insurance discount. They are offered by private companies approved and licensed by the state of New York. New York defensive driving courses will not reduce annual surcharges for excessive points. However, you will be eligible to have 4 points removed to keep the DMV from suspending your license.


Who teaches New York defensive driving?

New York defensive driving teachers are certified by the companies who offer the defensive driving courses. However, each company must file its certification procedures for approval with the New York DMV Commissioner. If you are interested in becoming a defensive driving instructor with Driving University, click here for more information.


What agency regulates defensive driving schools?

The New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) regulates the organizations that create defensive driving courses, called sponsor organizations. They also approve defensive driving courses, and regulates course curriculum. The sponsoring organizations, in turn, are responsible for monitoring defensive driving schools by making on-site visits to ensure that the classroom environment is safe for students and that the instructor is delivering the course material in an educationally sound fashion.

Once they receive notice from the defensive driving school that a student has successfully completed the course, the DMV updates the student's motor vehicle report to reflect that. The DMV also handles complaints against New York traffic schools.


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