Okay, I hope I hooked you. I’m not proud of it but as some of my Facebook friends know, I was stopped for speeding for the second time in one 12-month period and faced with adding points to my license. Rather than pay the fine outright, I dressed up in my best suit and went to court. I decided to ask the judge to let me take a driver improvement clinic (which of course I didn’t really need but just to keep points off my license). He said yes, and then paused, “And your overall driving record is pretty clean?”
“Yeah …” I white-fibbed, and then came clean thinking, for goodness sake, Melodie, you can’t lie in a court of law or they’ll get you on that, too. Plus, obviously I wouldn’t be asking for the driver improvement clinic if I hadn’t received multiple tickets. “Well, I did get a ticket last May so that’s why I’m asking about the options.”
So he court-ordered me to driving school, I paid the court costs, and am currently studying like mad to take my test soon. It is very good for me.
I am embarrassed to admit that I have a heavy foot at times but I think I’ve had only four tickets in 40 years, so maybe that isn’t too terrible. Four too many but I am serious when I say I’m glad to be forced to take the driver improvement clinic. I think most drivers would benefit.
I pondered whether to go to the eight-hour class in person or do the study online and asked advice from my Facebook friends. Besides “friends” cracking jokes about my confession, one said helpfully, “One of my children took the classroom course after an accident and I took one MANY moons ago in Texas. I think the live classroom makes more of an impact. My two cents!” Another said, and I loved her honesty, “Been there, more than I want to say. I took a course on line. They gave me a choice from court. Easy ... and worth it.”
I thought it would be easier to carve an hour out each morning for this study than to give up a complete, precious, eight-hour Saturday in “school.” I did some research and found that our local Chamber of Commerce had a course you could do online and then go to their office to take the final test.
It has actually been kind of fun—I never minded schoolwork. I enjoy taking the little quizzes that they give you at the end of each unit. It feels like the main emphasis is on knowing when you’re too drunk to drive, although overall the course is very comprehensive about pedestrian safety and bicycle riding safety and how to read road signs and what to do about aggressive or angry drivers. I am learning a lot I either didn’t know or had forgotten. I have no clue whether I can remember all the numbers but they have hammered in repeatedly that if you are going 60 mph and hit a tree, it is like jumping from a 10-story building. Not good. So I’m pretty sure that will be on the test and the questions are multiple choice anyway and if I read carefully, I think I’ll be able to pass it.
As I take to the road, factoids from the study keep creeping into my mind and I am very grateful. I have become a much more aware driver again, and hope it won’t wear off soon. I have become a more relaxed driver—not so much in a hurry. I still have to watch my foot on the pedal, and ease off on the speed. I would recommend an online course to anyone and the one I’m taking is absolutely free until you take the test. Of course, I probably wouldn’t be taking the time to do it either if I hadn’t been forced into this situation (by my own stupidity) but I do want to be a much better and safer driver.
And thank you, Mr. Judge, if you are reading this column, for letting me have the opportunity. Traffic rules are there for our own good and even police officers have our best interests at heart, (in spite of the fact that tickets bring in revenue to localities as my husband says).
I think, truly, since the cops are the ones who see the bad accidents up close way too often, they truly want more of us to have the opportunity to make it home and see our loved ones every single day.
There are many online driver improvement courses online. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce regarding test and clinic sites available in your area. Some are free and you only pay when you take the final test. Here is a link to the course I took: http://www.hrchamber.org/v.php?pg=40
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Another Way is a column from Third Way Media by Melodie Davis. She is the author of nine books, most recently Whatever Happened to Dinner and has written Another Way since 1987. She is also the producer and co-host of Shaping Families radio program (shapingfamilies.com) airing nationally.
To read more Another Way, visit Melodie at www.holmesbargainhunter.com.
Published: June 12, 2012