Friday, September 2, 2011

Traffic School Scam, Silly Sally & Stu

Back in the beginning of last month, I was radar-ed by a bored little boy motorcycle cop who refused to give me a break, and wrote me a ticket.  His crouching down to hide behind a tree, and parking his cycle out of view, combined with his superfluous sweating - to the point that his elbows were dripping wet and his hands and forearms were getting sun burnt as he handed me my citation - was rather ridiculous and helped me to feel better that day, when it was 107F.  What a petty little boy, in a petty little system...

But since it was my first violation in more than 15 years, I was "Eligible to take traffic school" and the "violation" would be wiped from my record.  I read over the literature the cop gave me, and called the Municipal court house to make sure I was interpreting things correctly... and a nice clerk there assured me I was correct.  She also advised me that 'We've heard that the online classes are REALLY hard from several people."  Well... since I consider myself one of the sharper knives in the drawer, I thought "how hard can the class be?"  Undaunted, I planned on signing up and taking the class the next afternoon. 

The class was going to be expensive.  The 15 mile over the posted limit was more than $200.  The class was almost $100, and then there were various city fees and fines and mandatory charges that amounted to almost $500, as clearly listed on the website.  I had my credit card ready.   There was a list of nearly 50 different companies.  Some of them provided class room training, some online training, some a combo.  They listed how many students they had graduated, and MANY of them had "Arizona" in their name.  I picked one of the largest companies:

As you can notice here... they are out of California.  They actually have "affiliates" in just about every state that allows online traffic school.  Their web site is VERY Welcoming.  It draws you in, and shows you a sample test with sample questions. Very slick.  Very smooth marketing.  Some of their competitors warn you that you have to scan or fax copies of the ticket and your license, but Arizona Driver doesn't say such things, luring you into a false sense of security.  "This'll be easy!"

Then, you begin the application process.  After filling out all your ID information and credit card, the online process tells you that now you have to fax or scan your ticket and ID.  Arizona Driver's Licenses have a picture of the Grand Canyon in the back ground, with a blue sky over it.  The blue sky is DIRECTLY behind the DL #, occluding and obscuring it.  The ticket is printed from a hand held printer, and it is about 12 inches long and 4 inches wide (with sweaty cop finger prints on it), so that takes several pages.  I scanned them all, and ENLARGED THEM so they are more readable.  Emailed them once to Arizona Driver.  No response, an hour later.   I call them - they want the DL # (not my name) - I squint and give it to them, "you only sent in the citation, not your driver's license"/  No, look again, I tell them.   5 minutes later, "nope, only the citation is here, please send it again."  This literally went on for 3 hours.  With me sending in my information, three times.  I completely blew an afternoon, trying to get set up with these clowns.

But ok, now I am set up.  The test takes 4 hours, followed by a 30 minute test.  I will do this on a Saturday morning, and work through it, I thought.  No problem.

Saturday morning, 3 weeks before my court date, I sit down to take my training and test, prepared that "it's REALLY Hard".  The training, was dumbed down, so that a border-line mentally handicapped person could have followed and passed it.  The test questions were simple, inane, and often irrelevant - worded to see if you were taking the training, not if you learned anything about Arizona driving laws or vehicle safety, just ridiculous memorization of nonsensical phrases.  By nonsensical and irrelevant, I mean things like this:
"If Stu chews shoes, should Stu choose the shoes he chews?"*
*Hint: This object may appear on the environmental portion of the final examination.

Please study the course materials in this section for at least 2 more minutes. Thank you.  (out of 10)
Seriously?  Stu chews shoes?  WTF?

Other amazingly insightful tips from the test last month included:

"When driving through deep water (if calm), you should slow down and shift to a lower gear."
( JJP:  um, how about NOT driving through the water????)

"Watch carefully for highway signs - they are harder to see at night."
(JJP: Really???)

"Winter Survival Kit: 
Drinking water (lots)"
(JJP: how much is "lots"?)

Ok, so the training materials were rather lame... but how about the test?  Well, here's an example:

"3. According to the statement in Chapter 4 (Defensive Driving Techniques), "The easiest way to stop your vehicle in a safe manner, no matter the situation, is to ______________."
  turn off the ignition
  aim for a telephone pole
  leave enough room to stop

Please study the course materials in this section for at least 5 more minutes. Thank you.  (out of 18)"

(JJP: Man, THAT was a HARD ONE!!)

"2. Trucks have much larger __________ on both sides than passenger vehicles.
  liver spots
  blind spots
  hot spots
  sun spots"

Please study the course materials in this section for at least 3 more minutes. Thank you.  (out of 11)

(JJP:  I am NOT making this up)

"1. According to Chapter 7 (Safety Equipment), "A minor or slight adjustment to a jammed seat belt or to the pendulum or ratchet mechanism might be the difference between ______________."
  fun and boredom
  life and death
  comfort and discomfort

2. The __________ of the vehicle is the safest place to be seated for children 12 years and younger.
  front seat
  back seat
  cargo area"

(JJP:  I Never would have known!)

And then, to see if you're paying attention:

""Silly Sally swiftly shooed seven silly sheep.
The seven silly sheep Silly Sally shooed
shilly-shallied south.
These sheep shouldn't sleep in a shack;
sheep should sleep in a shed." *

Please study the course materials in this section for at least 19 more minutes. Thank you.  (out of 26)"
(JJP: and YES, notice how there's am asterisk ( * ) and yes, it WAS on the final test)

But it didn't stop here, sadly...
1. According to Chapter 10 (Driver Attitude and Behavior), "A motor vehicle is far more dangerous than a ______."

Please study the course materials in this section for at least 18 more minutes. Thank you.  (out of 26)
1. The top of the page in Chapter 11 (The Arizona Driver License) states that Arizona Online Defensive Driving has "Over ________________ Graduated!"
  a dozen

Please study the course materials in this section for at least 6 more minutes. Thank you.  (out of 8)
( JJP: Now THAT will be HELPFUL on the final exam!!!!)

And the final exam, was the easiest test I'd ever taken in my entire life.  How easy was it?

Final Exam    Time    Score     Status
Environmental Exam    4:25 / 15:00     100%    Completed

Final Exam    Time    Score    Status
Content Exam(for review purposes only)    Unlimited    100%    Passed

There were actually questions to see if you remembered Sally and Stu, and what he chewed and what she did with her sheep.

If ANYONE takes this final exam, and gets ANY questions wrong - well, maybe one question wrong if they mis-read it... but more than one... - their driving privileges should be revoked.  That would make for much fewer stupid citizens of Idiocracy on the road, and an easier commute for the sentient. 

A colossal waste of time, and an insidious fund raiser for Arizona municipalities.

1 comment:

  1. Tickets and driving school aren't there to ensure public safety: they exist only to get revenue for counties and municipalities and to reward the traffic school contractors who grease the campaigns of public servants. In California, it's a $1.5bn "industry" that targets the middle class and poor by redefining what is often perfectly reasonable behavior as criminal.

    Fortunately, CA has slightly more stringent protections for individual rights, including prohibitions on cop hiding behind signs and overpasses, as well as a looser definition of what a speed trap is. You also have a right to trial by written declaration, which you can use to your advantage:


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