Safe Driving Tips for Lower Car Insurance Rates
SmartFinancial Offers Unbiased, Fact-based Information. Our fact-checked articles are intended to educate insurance shoppers so they can make the right buying decisions. Learn More
If you maintain a driving record free of accidents and moving violations, your insurance company may reward you with a safe driving discount. Savings towards your policy premium can range from 10% to 30%, and eligibility will vary by the insurance company.
What Is a Safe Driver Discount?
A safe driver discount is a discount on your car insurance premiums that most insurers offer to drivers who avoid accidents and moving violations for three to five years. Drivers who qualify for a safe driving discount can save 10% to 30% on their car insurance rates. Not all insurance companies offer discounts for safe driving.
How Safe Driver Discounts Work and How To Qualify
Eligibility for a safe driver discount can vary by company. Some insurers will consider your accident history, moving violation history or both.
- Stay accident-free: No accidents in the past three to five years (even if you were not at fault)
- Stay moving violation-free: No moving violations or traffic citations in the past three to five years (e.g., speeding tickets, DUIs)
- Stay accident- and moving violation-free: Some insurers will require drivers to maintain a driving record free of accidents and moving violations for three to five years.
Usage-based insurance is another form of savings for driving safely and is calculated based on your driving habits. By downloading a mobile app on your phone, the insurer used telematics technology to track data about your driving behaviors. You may not need to have a clean driving record to enroll in your insurer’s telematics program since savings are based on your driving habits, not your driving history.
California Drivers Must Be Offered a Safe Driver Discount
In California, car insurance providers are legally required to offer a 20% discount if the driver has one point or less on their driving record. If you believe you qualify for this discount but your insurer did not offer you this discount, contact your insurance company and inform them of this legal provision.
Get Personalized Car Insurance Quotes Here
Companies That Offer Safe Driver Discounts
Most national insurance carriers offer some form of savings for maintaining a clean driving record.
Get Personalized Car Insurance Quotes Here
Safe Driving Tips To Lower Your Insurance Rates
Maintaining an accident-free driving record is no accident. If you stay alert, minimize distractions and actively obey traffic laws, you are more likely to lower your car insurance rate with a good driver discount.
Observe And Obey Speed Limits
When you’re speeding, you decrease the time available to react to an emergency situation and can increase the severity of the collision. Receiving a speeding ticket may face added points on your driving record and increase and higher car insurance rates. Always pay attention to posted speed limits and slow down in neighborhoods, school zones and construction areas.
Distracted driving accounted for 3,142 deaths in 2020 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These deaths could have been avoided if the drivers were staying alert while driving. Driving while distracted includes any activity that pulls your attention away from the road, such as:
- Setting your GPS destination
- Choosing a radio station
- Talking with your passengers
- Bumping up the volume
Minimize distractions by setting your phone to driving mode, waiting to eat and drink until you get home and setting your GPS and radio station before you start driving. Also, set your radio volume at a moderate level so you can hear your approaching sirens and potential hazards.
Practice Defensive Driving
Defensive driving is practicing safe driving habits that encourage alertness and smart reactiveness while driving. Some insurers will apply another auto insurance discount to your policy for completing an approved defensive driving course. Some techniques these courses will teach you include:
- Controlling your speed
- Constantly monitoring the road for potential hazards
- Never assume other rivers are sober and alert (like you!)
- Staying alert for weather conditions
- Minimizing distractions
Driving when emotions are running high can impede your driving, leading to road rage or any other event that would compromise your judgment behind the wheel. Use these tips to promote calmness while driving:
- If you’re feeling angry or distraught before you start driving, take a couple of moments to collect yourself before starting your car.
- Keep your distance from aggressive drivers.
- Listen to calming music.
- Avoid honking your horn unnecessarily — it may spur other drivers to drive recklessly around you.
- Let it go if another driver cuts you off.
Avoid Driving When Tired
According to the NHTSA, drowsy driving accounted for 633 deaths in 2020. Falling asleep for just four seconds while driving at 55 mph means 100 yards in which you were unconscious. The following tips can help you avoid drowsy driving:
- Get enough sleep each night.
- Do not drink any alcohol before driving.
- Do not take medication that causes drowsiness before driving.
Unfortunately, there may be instances when alert driving is not always possible — you just had a new baby or you had a late work shift, for instance. If sleep deprivation is severely affecting your ability to drive, pull over, drink a cup of coffee and take a nap at a designated rest stop before returning to the road.
Don’t Drink And Drive
If you’re caught drinking and driving, the consequences can go beyond ruining your clean driving record. You risk a suspended license, incarceration and causing injuries or deaths in a car accident in which you would be held liable.
A first DUI offense can cost up to $10,000 in fines and legal fees according to the NHTSA. If you plan to drink, make transportation arrangements for getting home beforehand. The cost of a taxi or a rideshare service is significantly cheaper than paying for a DUI. The same applies when driving under the influence of drugs!
Secure Loose Cargo
Cargo that comes loose while driving can cause severe damage or injuries to other people. Before you secure cargo on top of your car, read your owner’s manual to see how much your vehicle’s roof can support. Next, use the appropriate tools for the job, such as nylon ropes, cinching straps or custom-built roof equipment to secure bicycles, surfboards or other sporting equipment.
Slow Down When Children Are Present
In 2019, 181 child pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents according to the NHTSA. Remain vigilant when driving through neighborhoods because children playing in the streets may suddenly dart in front of your car. Also, stay alert when driving during the hour before school starts and the hour after it ends.
Remember: You must stop whenever a school bus is loading or unloading passengers, even if the bus does not activate lights or the stop sign. This goes for when you’re behind the bus or in an oncoming traffic lane.
Maintain Your Car
Car maintenance is critical in ensuring your car is safe to drive and helping you identify hazards. Malfunctioning wiper blades and dirty headlights will directly impede your vision of the road, especially in poor weather conditions. Use the tips below to maintain your car and improve safety for you and drivers around you:
- Clean your headlights
- Replace worn brake pads
- Ensure your tires can travel in dangerous weather conditions (e.g., rain, ice, snow)
- Inspect your wiper blades
- Maintain your oil and brake fluids
Drive Cautiously During Bad Weather
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, weather-related car crashes kill an average of 5,376 people annually. Drive cautiously when there is inclement weather in your area. Wet, icy or slick roads can change how your vehicle behaves on the road. For instance, slow down when driving down icy, wet or snowy roads. If bright sunlight is blocking your view, slow down to give other drivers more space. Use your fog lights when visibility is extremely poor.
Adjust Your Car Setting
Drivers may not always realize that their car setup isn’t the most conducive to their size and driving needs. For example, setting your seat too close to your driving wheel may leave insufficient space for your feet to easily switch from the gas pedal to the brakes. Or, your seat may be set too low and you need to strain to better see the road. The next time you’re in your car, take a few minutes to optimize your seat, side and rear view mirrors for your needs.
Maintaining a clean driving record and shopping around are the best ways to find affordable car insurance. With SmartFinancial, we compare rates from multiple car insurers to save you valuable time and tons of money. Just enter your zip code below or call 855.214.2291 to receive your free car insurance quote.