Saturday, July 21

California "Mature Driver Improvement Course"

When I first heard about this, my first reaction was, "Is there an 'Immature Driver Improvement Course'"?

Anyway, according to the California DMV,

  • The Mature Driver Improvement Course provides instruction on defensive driving and California motor vehicle laws. During this course, information is provided on the effects that medication, fatigue, alcohol, visual or auditory limitations have on a person's driving ability.
  • Mature drivers, 55 or older, who successfully complete an approved Driver Improvement Course can qualify for reduced motor vehicle insurance premiums.
  • Actual classroom time is at least 400 minutes of instruction for the initial course and 240 minutes of instruction for the renewal course, not including registration time, breaks, lunch periods, and issuance of completion certificates.... The maximum fee for the classroom or non-classroom course is $30 plus a $1 charge for a DMV certificate to be presented to your insurer as proof you have completed the course.
The Traffic Violator School Unit gives the approval to firms who desire to teach the Mature Driver Improvement Course.
Presumably, the lesson plan in court-mandated traffic violator school is different from the Mature Driver Improvement Course, but it's reasonable to suppose there's a lot of overlap. Both courses are supposed to consist of 400 minutes of instruction.

How does the Traffic Violator School Unit go about approving Mature Driver Improvement Courses? They apply to the Occupational Licensing Service and Support office of the Department of Motor Vehicles, and pay a "non-refundable application fee of $500.00."

While accidents caused by aging drivers are no doubt a problem, the Mature Driver Improvement Course is an interesting solution.
  • I suspect someone like the AARP lobbied for this as a way to get aging drivers a discount on their insurance.
  • The DMV makes money by licensing the individual courses, which are apparently based on extant traffic violator courses. 
  • Traffic Violator Schools make money off the deal. Although there are apparently more places serving as Traffic Violator Schools than places offering Mature Driver Improvement Courses, that doesn't mean that they didn't have a hand in crafting this rule ("400 minutes" makes me suspicious). 
  • Even though aging drivers get a discount, they are treated like "traffic violators" and have to spend 6½ hours on the course.
  • To make up for the discount, the insurance companies will make everyone else pay more.

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