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Traffic School Via the Internet
By B.J. Killeen

I was long overdue for a ticket. So between rushing back and forth to the hardware store (we just bought a house) and taking full advantage of the available horsepower and torque from the luxury-laden Mitsubishi Diamante, I didn’t see the motorcycle cop until I had passed him. I wasn’t going all that fast, just faster than I should have been for that street. It was one of those situations where as soon as I passed him, I just pulled over.

Unlike 20 years ago, today when I’m stopped, my hands remain on the steering wheel in full sight. I don’t want anyone getting the wrong idea I was rooting around in my purse for a weapon instead of my driver’s license.

And as always with someone who has the power to put me in striped pajamas, I was exceedingly polite, admitted I was going above the posted speed limit and apologized. The officer had a sense of humor. He said he was sorry I was speeding also. Haha. At this point, just write the ticket so I don’t have to sit here and be ogled and laughed at by passing drivers who knew that particular stretch of road better than I did, and were aware it’s usually a speed trap.

I don’t even mind paying for the ticket, since I haven’t had one in at least five years, but the fact that I would have to endure eight tedious hours of driving school to get it off my record is what almost brought me to tears. That’s when I remembered hearing about attending a driver’s school online. I asked the officer, who wasn’t sure of the specifics, but told me information would come along with the pertinent fine and summons information.

I did a little dance at the mailbox when I read that those who received tickets in Los Angeles County were eligible to attend a school online. Of course, nothing’s free, so after coughing up the $130 for the fine, another $32 to allow me the honor of attending traffic school and the $34 cost of the school itself, I was ready.

From the approved list sent by the court, I contacted The Online Traffic school, at onlinetraffic.com. After receiving an access code for the program, I jumped right in and began reading the lessons on screen in the comfort of my own home, not some stuffy classroom in another zip code.

There were five topics, each covering a different aspect of motor vehicle operation: accident prevention and insurance, defensive driving techniques, alcohol and drug use, driving attitude and behavior and California traffic laws. At the end of each section is a topic answer form with 10 questions, and at the end of five topics there’s a final answer form with 25 questions.

If you think you can download the quizzes and bribe your niece or nephew to fill in the blanks, you’re half right. Downloading is easy; I did it so I could read and review the topics on my own time, in between phone calls and the Jerry Springer show. But you must answer the questions by yourself without any assistance whatsoever, and sign at the bottom of the answer sheet under penalty of perjury, which, as we all know, comes with some hefty backlash.

Besides, you can’t speed through the topics and just try to answer the review questions; they throw in a few ringers to make sure you read all the way through the program. There’s no easy way out.

Granted, you may not come away with the all the knowledge you usually get trapped in a small classroom with other scofflaws for eight hours, but you do learn some surprising facts, such as college police have full power to ticket and arrest, or that the major contributing factor to traffic accidents is time mismanagement.

After filling in all the answers, you fax or mail the forms to the school’s headquarters, and if you pass (you need to answer a certain percentage correctly), the school will send you a certificate of completion, which you mail to the court, which then expunges your record. All quite neat and tidy, and definitely the 90s way to do business. Very convenient.

Now if I can figure out a way to do a virtual driving test, I may never have to leave my computer!