Newly Discovered: Internet Traffic School

December 12, 2009


As a confirmed agnostic, I’m not inclined to believe in a Higher Power, but, frankly, I don’t know how else to explain Internet Traffic School other than as proof of Divine Intervention.

I mean, how cool is this? 75 minutes – 90, tops – on my computer and I’m done with Traffic School faster than you can say “license and registration, please.” Slow down.  I’m getting ahead of myself.

About every five years, I get a speeding ticket. This time, I got nailed last summer, doing 70 in a 55 on Los Osos Valley Road. I was taking Tanner, my dog who has cancer, to the vet at the time (the cop didn’t buy the excuse either). I never argue with police. I was speeding. I got caught. I knew the consequences.

Back to Traffic School I go.

I don’t know much about the history of Traffic School, but here’s the official spiel: Traffic school is typically an eight hour course held in a courtroom or classroom on one day. The course may however, be split into shorter sessions spread over a number of days. The total “in class” time is the same either way and must equal eight hours. If a violator shows up late to class they will be required to stay after for the amount of time they were tardy in order to complete the full eight hours.

Note the emphasis on the phrase “eight hours.” In the old days, one had to spend a full 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 hours in a class somewhere, usually a cramped Holiday Inn Express conference room or classroom at SLO High. You had to give up an entire Saturday, or Sunday, or come on consecutive weekends. No exceptions.

You typically had two choices in Traffic School. Either the Unfunny Aspiring Comic, who was teaching the class because no real comedy gig was available, or the Dry, Retired, CHP Officer Looking for Extra Money. Both made you sit there the entire time, counting the minutes until you could grab your certificate of completion and bolt the room, ready to scream at the mere mention of any more mundane traffic statistics. What we were willing to do keep our car insurance rates down.

Those days are over. Traffic offenders in SLO County have the option of Internet Traffic School and they’re pretty much like Tiger Woods’ girlfriends: cheap, quick and incredibly easy.

Case in point: The One I Used, But Prefer Not to Reveal Publicly. Better known as Traffic School for Complete and Total Dummies. I had a list of multiple online Traffic Schools to choose from, but this one caught my eye because it was only $15.97 and they offered the option of filing your certificate electronically with court. Sweet.

Their “course” offers eight different chapters, with a 10-question quiz at the end of each chapter, followed by a 25-question final exam. You have to score at least 80 percent on each quiz (including getting Question #10 correct), as well as getting 80 percent on the final exam in order to pass.

I planned on spending three hours, still a bargain.

It took me 75 minutes.

In their defense, the course material is certainly comprehensive and relevant to traffic issues. They cover the material, as expected by the State of California. You could easily spend 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 hours absorbing all the critical information.

But who’s got time? The “quizzes” are often basic True/False questions. Take the chapter quiz. Get your score. If you didn’t pass, just go back and change enough answers until you do pass. On my first attempt at the final exam, I scored 78 just by guessing. I went back and changed all the True/False I had missed and passed with a 92.

And the questions? “True or False: It is unethical to have someone else supply you with the answers to this test?” Or my favorite, “Who is the web designer for this site?” I had no idea, but through a process of elimination, I stumbled on the correct answer in a manner of minutes.

It took me 75 minutes this first attempt. Having figured out the system, I bet I could do it now in less than 45. Why bother even reading the chapter content? Just play around with the questions until you get enough right answers to proceed.

Of course, I’m not encouraging anyone to speed, nor drive irresponsibly. I still had to pay a hefty fine for my transgression (even though I was driving my dog who has cancer to the vet) and that should be enough to slow anyone down. However, if you do get a ticket, and Traffic School is an option, well, you’ll be amazed as to how fast you can speed on the Internet.

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Yep, didn’t learn a damn thing.

Being in a hurry is what got you the ticket in the first place.