Well the court said, ‘go to traffic school in Ca, in person, not on-line, and we will drop the ticket to a mechanical.’ Well, I actually was speeding so I figured it was the best option but being a smart aleck, I signed up for comedy traffic school in San Francisco. What do they want from a Californian? I also picked San Francisco for a nice cross-culture of life and hopefully no cancellations because I waited until the last weekend due to work issues and putting it off so well. I flew into California on Saturday and went to school on Sunday, caught a red-eye back to Ma.
Now traffic school is an interesting place on a good day but figure in the San Francisco factor and the comedy factor and it gets better. I was the only person with a ticket in another state and one of the few that only had one ticket. You know when everyone does the ‘forgive me teacher for I have sinned’ speech, you learn a lot.
You learn that camera enforced red light tickets are $400. Talk about the information age, you don’t even have to be stopped by a real person!
You learn that someone got a ticket for ‘honking their horn’ in addition to the U turn in the middle of the street and it became known as ‘horning someone’ for the remainder of the day…. You can only ‘horn’ someone with they are in going to occupy the same plane, time and space of your vehicle.
There were also two folks that got tickets for ‘driving too fast through the EZpass lane on a bridge.’ They are ticketing for this…. So slow down…
When the introductions are done you actually review the new laws in Ca. I foolishly had been under the impression that they were common sense such as ‘driving slow in a cone zone,’ ‘not texting and driving’ which may not be illegal yet but ‘talking on the phone without a hands free device,’ and ‘not smoking in a car with minors.’ Evidently they aren’t common or sense or we wouldn’t have had to make them laws…. It amazes me what I think is common sense and I find out that they are neither.
The other thing that amazes me is how otherwise normal humans can fall into the ‘pack mentality.’ One of our esteemed members of the class got a ticket for crossing the pedestrian crosswalk when a person was in it, it happens….
We then spent a large amount of time discussing ‘when you can hit a pedestrian, bicyclist, etc with your vehicle? ‘But bicycles have to follow the rules of the road, so can you hit a bicycle messenger who is in the crosswalk if he hits an old lady pushing a stroller? Well how about if they are riding on the sidewalk on a unicycle, juggling and not watching traffic with a trained monkey?’ Now these are from people that on any other given day would know ‘you can never hit another person or vehicle, yes, even bicycle messengers ever no matter what.’ But on this day the pack mentality ruled, it was amazing to see it play out… Even the instructor was dumbstruck by the questions… Me being a voyeur of the human condition was amazed and amused…
Now where peer pressure was extremely helpful was in getting everyone back from breaks and lunch on time. The bribe didn’t hurt either. We got to leave at 3:45 if we came back to class on time. It is amazing how much of a difference 15 minutes makes in a long day.
So now we must ask ‘did I learn anything?’ Actually, I did. It was a great review of things I was told at 16 years of age when I had the attention span of a gnat as in ‘look at that cute boy, will he ever date someone like me?’ time for a daydream. Now it is more like ‘look at the cute pup, oh I need to go back to work.’ I actually still have the attention span of a gnat but the ability to refocus has come with age… So a refresher course 20+ years later was nice.
I was reminded that you don’t pass a truck until you can see the tires and the headlights in your rearview mirror.
It is smart to not pass a bicyclist in their lane just at the turn, merge with them and don’t endanger them by cutting in front and slowing to turn…. It is an accident waiting to happen with horrible outcomes for the bicyclist or a motorcyclist. Also, it is ok to be polite and let them go first.
I also saw a sign that I’ve never seen before that meant end of paved road.
There was also information that is relevant to me now; it takes almost 8 times longer to stop in snow than in nice weather. Won’t be tailgating soon in the Boston area no matter how many cars want to drive my vehicle with their horn… more on that later.
So there was a lot of good information on rules of the road but most boil down to the rules we learned in Kindergarten, play nice, be polite, hold hands, we are all in this together.
There were also two other sections, one on drinking and driving and the other on road rage. Now this next year when you renew your license in California you will sign a paper that says if you have been drinking and someone dies, you can be tried for murder. Since I had a coach killed and his girlfriend maimed for life by a 3x drunk driver I do support this law. But we discussed that 1 drink for a male might wear off in an hour but for a woman due to mass and metabolism it might take much longer. I really believe that if you are going to drink, just make other arrangements, taxi, a designated driver, bus, sleep over. It isn’t worth the risk even without the new law. You may spend years in jail but how many years will hang on your heart? This is my PSA (public service announcement) here.
Now the road rage is another one that was interesting because I have to let you know that I’m a ‘passive inciting aggressive behavior in a RR driver.’ If they try to drive my car with their horn consistently especially in traffic, I will start to stop every time they ‘horn’ me. Which ‘passively incites their aggression,’ sad but true. If you are late, it happens, next time leave earlier. People do forget to get in the correct lane or just space it. We get cut off and sometimes it is just an accident. We need to go back to those kindergarten rules but I will actually probably still stop and wait when ‘horned’ repeatably but I do know the risks I’m taking and thankfully I am only this ornery on occasion.
But I guess the biggest thing I saw was the difference in the class, some folks were just mad they were there, others just watching the clock. If you have to go to these things and we all do in one way or another during a lifetime. Take the time to get some good out of it as well as people watch, if nothing else you learn who you want to get on the road behind after class and who you don’t want to share a road with at all….