A couple of years ago I decided to take a defensive driving course. I'd spent the preceding years as a graduate student in Brooklyn. I didn’t have a car, and, with the few exceptions of picking up some milk when visiting my parents in the ‘burbs, I really hadn’t spent any time behind the wheel since college. I had a license, but with fatherhood not too far off, I figured it wasn’t a terrible idea to re-learn the meaning of many traffic signs.

I dreaded the actual classroom time. There are so many better ways to spend a sunny Saturday morning than in a whited-walled, metallic-chaired cheap-coffee’d classroom. But I have to say the teacher was really cool and open-minded. He wasn’t dogmatic or condescending; rather, he was super laid-back and answered all of our questions with candor and humor. Of course every teacher in every classroom is different, but I generally think these courses are “adult time” and everyone is treated with respect instead of getting lectured to with a bullhorn. The five hours went by quickly.

Next we hit the road. I took a private lesson with “Hernandez,” a small man with a large love of the New York Yankees.

“What do you want to work on?”

“Parallel parking,” I said without hesitation.

So for the next hour we just drove around Booklyn parallel parking. It was extremely helpful. Reverse all the way to the right until you hit the curb. Reverse all the way to the left until you’re done. Boom. It was wonderful aversion therapy. Not long after I was parking in front of Carnegie Hall!

And then of course there’s the car insurance discount for taking a defensive driving course. I wasn’t a candidate (not driving for three years apparently yields a pristine driving record), but most folks can save a few dollars a month on their car insurance premium as a result of the course. The window is five years.

So there you have it. I’m totally bullish on driving defensive driving courses. Car insurance discount aside, I’m a much better driver because of it. And sacrificing a Saturday morning was well worth it for the peace of mind while driving my family.

For a more... objective take on the topic check out our learning center piece on defensive driving courses and car insurance.

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