04 April 2013

Traffic School

So, I did it.  I got a speeding ticket a few weeks ago.  (Yes, this may be a shock to anyone who has driven with me and had to endure my usual slow driving).  It was in the morning, in between dropping Camden off at his school and taking the other boys to their school.  But I wasn’t even in a rush.  We had left the house and dropped of Camden in plenty of time, and we were just making our way to the other school.  The boys and I were listening to an audio book and I just didn’t pay attention.  So I was surprised and frustrated with myself when I saw a police officer signaling me over to the side of the road and I realized my mistake.  I had been driving 5 miles under the speed limit.  Unfortunately for me, it was on a road near a middle school, and even thought I was going under the speed limit, I wasn’t going slow enough for a school zone.  Aargh! 

Michael has taken advantage of this opportunity to give me a hard time about my speeding and the cost of the ticket (I guess he’s conveniently forgotten about the time that he rear-ended a car right after we moved here).   :)   But I figure it’s only a matter of time until I’ll have a chance to tease Michael about a speeding ticket someday too (we both know that I generally drive slower than he does) – and no one can spend too much time on the road and avoid getting a ticket forever.  [Although, in my defense, I’d say the more time you spend driving the more likely you are to have an accident.  And since I would guess I spend an average of about 11 hours driving per week (on the weekdays) and Michael only spends about 6 hours a week, then logically I should be allowed nearly double the traffic tickets he gets without any extra teasing, right?  Sure, that makes sense, just take my word for it].

Anyway, when I got the ticket I found out that you can pay a little more and take traffic school to avoid the ticket going on your driving record and increasing your insurance costs.  So today I finally decided to stop beating around the bush and get it over with.  I spent several hours today reading through the wordy text in the online traffic school courses (the DMV requires all traffic school courses to include a minimum word count, so apparently that means that the text needs to be excessively repetitive, use longer phrases than necessary to explain simple things, and occasionally even throw in extra random words that don’t fit in the sentences just for good measure).  And for some reason, the traffic school that I chose from the list of approved schools has text that mostly makes sense, but just doesn’t quite sound right, almost like it was translated from a foreign language or something.  It keeps using the word “learnt,” but don’t worry – I looked it up to make sure, and “learnt” is a real word, it’s just the British form of “learned.”

And then some of this stuff is just downright dumb.  For example, I learned that according to the traffic school course, “More children are killed in car collisions than in any other type of collision.”  [Really, ya think?  I would have guessed more children were killed in helicopter collisions.]  I’ve read entire sections about the difference between road rage and aggressive driving, I’ve seen the same picture of a car’s blind spots 4 different times so far (and I’m only on section 8 out of 11 so far), I’ve re-memorized the legal alcohol drinking limit just because I knew I’d be quizzed on that one – even though I’ve never had a drink in my life and I never will, and I’ve learned some very important facts that I didn’t know before.  For example, I learned that “sharrow” is the name for the markings on the roads that mean you need to share the traffic lane with bicyclists (this is different than a bike lane).  No, the incredibly helpful traffic school course did not show a picture so we would know what a sharrow is, but fortunately it told us the name of a sharrow and then quizzed us to make sure we never forget the name of this marking. 

By the way, these are what sharrow markings look like – thank you, Google Images.

Anyway, as you can probably tell, I’m actually just postponing finishing the last few sections of the traffic school by taking the time to write this, because if I don’t take a little break I might go crazy from reading for the 87th time that the highest cause of collisions is speeding and the second highest cause is drunk driving (or if I didn’t take a break, at least I might have fallen asleep while reading the driving facts, again). 

I guess that’s one good reason never, ever, ever to break any traffic laws – besides the fact that it might not be safe, tickets cost money, it’s not a very good example for the kids to see their mom get a ticket, and apparently you can avoid being teased by your spouse if you have a perfect driving record – surely no one who has ever had to endure traffic school would do anything to have to go through that again. 

[Ok, seriously, it’s really not all that bad.  Just a waist of a perfectly good day that I actually didn’t have anything big planned except getting kids back and forth to school so I could have spent that time doing something, anything, more enjoyable than traffic school.]

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