Posts tagged ‘traffic school’

Traffic School 2.0

It was a lovely Saturday considering that we’re in the midst of winter. The sun was out and the temperature was in the mid-50s. It was a great time to go to the nearby park and hike around the lake. But not this Saturday. I had to attend traffic school.

A few weeks ago, I was caught by the California Highway Patrol making an illegal line change. I crossed the white solid line when exiting the freeway. I see a lot of drivers do this all the time and able to get away with it. They should consider themselves fortunate. I was fined $291 for my indiscretion plus $34 for the class fee.

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January 8, 2012 at 3:08 pm 10 comments

Traffic School

He reminded me of a younger version of Don Knotts, the bungling Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife in the Andy Griffith show. His looks, mannerisms, and style of speaking could easily pass for the late star’s. The fact that he’s also a sheriff brought chills down my spine. I’m talking about our instructor in the traffic school dismissal program that I attended.

When I saw him in front of the class, I thought of life imitating art, but it was only for a moment. He may have looked and acted like him, but he was no Barney Fife. He conducted the class with a firm hand, the way a drill sergeant does to his new recruits.

He started the class by saying that it would be from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm or until all the materials were covered. There was no reason for it to extend beyond the scheduled time, but there were occasions in the past when it did.

“Whenever a cell phone rings,” he warned, “15 minutes will be added. When somebody is caught falling asleep, 15 minutes will also be added. In addition, if the latter is the case, the whole class will be sent to the next room and do calisthenics.”

He continued that he didn’t expect a one-man show with him doing all the talking. He wanted everybody to participate and to pay close attention as there would be a test at the end of the class.

The instructor then proceeded to put us in the right frame of mind. He did a roll-call and reminded us that he’d have to do it every hour as mandated by state law.

“Now that everybody is accounted for, I want each and everyone of you to take your turn and tell the class why you are here, the violation that you committed, and the fine that you paid to the state.”

In my case, I was caught by a sharp-eyed cop driving without a seat belt. The fine was $122 plus the class fee of $32. There were 25 of us in the class. Attending the class would give the court an excuse to dismiss the charge and keep our driving records clean and not cause our insurance premiums to go up.

As we listened to each other’s sob story, we felt a bond. It was like attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Since we were all guilty as charged, it was a relief to speak to a very supportive audience.

The course covered traffic signs, signals, and roadway markings. It included identifying their different shapes and colors that we were supposed to know before we got our driver’s license.

He discussed driving being a privilege not a right, safe driving practices, and turning and passing in the city as well as on the expressway.

He pointed to a big black 400-page binder on the bookshelf. He said it contained all the traffic rules and regulations that would get us into trouble if not followed. Heck, I thought, there must be thousands of them in that book.

“For instance,” he said. “do you know that you’re required by law to turn on your headlights anytime your windshield wipers are in use?”

Of course, we pretended we did.

He cited statistics showing that in 2003 alone there were 6,328,000 car accidents in the u.s.

“It’s a real war zone out there,” he continued, “with 2.9 million injuries and 42,643 people killed as a result of car accidents.”

“You may be the best driver in the world. You may be following all the rules. But when you drive out there, you’ll be sharing the road with people who shouldn’t be there in the first place such as drunks, drug addicts, carjackers, tailgaters, distracted drivers with their cell phones, etc.”

As if to bring home the point, he showed a video featuring some of the worst road accidents ever recorded complete with all the gory details. We saw several car wrecks, a headless torso and pieces of flesh being put on body bags, Some bloody remains of teens whose lives were snuffed unexpectedly, and lucky ones who survived and were rewarded by becoming paraplegics for life.

The video scared the hell out of us. After watching the video, we wondered if we could ever drive again with the same confidence that we had before.

I think everybody did OK on the test that followed after the lecture. Actually, we could have aced it if all questions were discussed in the class. Some of the questions weren’t. When we complained about it, the instructor said that since we’re all licensed to drive, we’re supposed to know them. Ignorance of the law excuses no one.

At that point, we had to agree. There was no time to argue. He was the boss. He had to sign the certificate that we had completed the course as required by the court.

June 10, 2010 at 1:15 am 17 comments

From The Book Thief

i have hated the words and i have loved them, and i hope i have made them right.

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