The demand for driver education that exceeds state operated programs continues to increase. However, parents are justifiably reluctant to enroll their students in any program that will give their students experience they consider overly-aggressive or inappropriate for an inexperienced driver.

With an understanding of the leading causes of crashes, and the inherent weaknesses of new drivers, we have evaluated the various content and approaches utilized by today's leading programs. It has been determined there are threads of consistency between the most successful programs.

Defensive Driving programs meeting the following requirements may submit to be certified. Contact the NDDI at:

In order to be eligible for certification by the National Defensive Driving Institute, any driver training program must adhere to the following expectations:

Program Format:
By definition, a "defensive" move is made as a result of and "offensive" move which turned a Normal Driving Condition in to an Emergency Driving Condition. Therefore, a program desirous of being classified as a "Defensive Driving" program, can only be a behind-the-wheel, skill training program training students in the proper execution of appropriate, defensive maneuvers in Emergency Driving Conditions.

  Feature: Results must be measurable.
  Benefit: Allowing parents to measure their students progress, validates the necessity of the program.
  Feature: Drivers must participate in their own vehicle.
  Benefit: Since the primary focus of a Defensive Driving program is to familiarize the student with the limits of their vehicle, logic implies they become familiar with the vehicle they intend to drive most frequently.
  Feature: Drivers under 21 must be accompanied by a parent.
  Benefit: Research has shown there is an inherent communication barrier between parents and students on the subject of driving. Co-attendance has proven to reduce, if not eliminate that communication barrier, thereby facilitating future communication.  
  Feature: Behind-the-wheel driving sessions must not exceed 5 hours in length.
  Benefit: Maximizes on the student's retention abilities.
  Feature: Programs must be dynamic and offer multiple improvement suggestions annually to retain certification.
  Benefit: Maintain public acceptance of a current curriculum that adjusts to the demands of today's drivers.

All programs must carry a minimum of $1,000,000 in liability insurance to any venue they attend.

Program Content
  Feature: All exercises will be limited to applications appropriate and legal for street use.
  Benefit: Some driving skills are not appropriate for younger, less experienced drivers. These skills are best instructed by Level 10 programs.
  Feature: Program must define, and differentiate between Normal Driving Conditions and Emergency Driving Conditions.
  Benefit: Basic operational, or "driver's ed" programs train in Normal Driving Conditions. No traffic fatality has ever occurred during Normal Driving Conditions. The consumer needs to understand the need for training under Emergency Driving Conditions.
  Feature: Off-road overcorrection will be addressed as the number one killer of teens. It will be explained in detail why new drivers are more subject to this type of crash.
  Benefit: Preventative exercises and instructions provided with the program will help prevent this type of crash.
  Feature: Drivers will be instructed how to best-position themselves in their own vehicle to prepare themselves to handle any Emergency Driving Conditions.
  Benefit: Provide student with maximum opportunity to maintain control of the vehicle. Reduce injury due to improper positioning.
  Feature: Distracted Driving is to be presented as illegal in every state. This includes but is not limited to the use of any electronic devices such as cellular phones, remote sound systems, and global positioning systems.  

Limits of Steering:
  Feature: Parking space navigation will be a required exercise.
  Benefit: With parking lot incidents being one of the leading contributors to insurance claims, familiarizing the students with the corners of their vehicle and the concept of widening their turns to simplify the parking process reduces the likelihood of such incidents.
  Feature: A low-speed slalom course will be a required exercise.
  Benefit: Research has proven "hand-over-hand" steering is kinesthetically the fastest means by which to turn the steering wheel. Since this practice is counter-intuitive, and for some, unnatural, a venue must be provided for students to become familiar with the mechanics of this technique.

Limits and Maintenance of Acceleration:
  Feature: A radar-monitored speed control exercise.
  Benefit: Condition students to be able to maintain lane while monitoring speed and making delicate speed control adjustments.  
  Feature: A radar-monitored full acceleration exercise will be required.
  Benefit: Lets student experience the effect of full acceleration on their anxiety level in a controlled environment. Allow students to experience their vehicle's torque-steer effect in a controlled environment. (For vehicles not equipped with Anti-Lock Brake Systems, modulation will be used as the means by which to determine the threshold of braking capabilities.)

Limits of Braking:
  Feature: A detailed explanation of the different types of braking systems will be provided.
  Benefit: Increase the awareness and understanding of differently-equipped vehicles. Reduce consumer misconceptions as to the popularity and effectiveness of Anti-Lock brakes.
  Feature: Application of maximum deceleration (dry conditions) will be a required exercise.
  Benefit: Provide student to experience the violence of an emergency stop in a controlled environment. (For vehicles not equipped with Anti-Lock Brake Systems, modulation will be used as the means by which to determine the threshold of braking capabilities.)
  Feature: Application of maximum deceleration (wet conditions) will be a required exercise.
  Benefit: Allows students to experience the difference between wet and dry conditions.

Crash Avoidance:
  Feature: Simultaneous application of maximum braking and maximum steering will be a required exercise.
  Benefit: Let students experience how fast an Emergency Driving Situation can occur. Provide students with the opportunity to practice emergency maneuvers in a controlled environment. Provide students the opportunity to show they know the process of simultaneous maximum braking and steering. Make students realize they are not as "in control" as they may think.

  Feature: Instructors of certified programs will also be certified by the NDDI.
  Benefit: Ensures proper delivery and application of content. 
  Feature: Student/Instructor ratio must not be more than 5:1. 
  Benefit: A lesser ratio diminishes on the benefit of individual, personalized instruction. The NDDI does not certify mass-output, "cookie-cutter" or group-instruction programs.

Consumer alert:
To verify the NDDI Certification of any Defensive Driving program:
  Confirm the listing by e-mailing the name, address and phone number to:
  Make sure the program's web-site displays the following, currently-dated seal of program certification