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Homeschooling for scofflaws

Issue 9.12 | Dec 2001

Last month, as I glanced into the rearview mirror to check my eye shadow, I was surprised to see the flashing red-and-blues and hear the whoop-whoop of the po-pos behind me. My illegal left turn left me with a Ben Franklin ticket and a date to watch Red Asphalt. Fortunately, the Internet let me ditch a weekend-education snoozer.

Online traffic schools were first accepted three years ago, in California, as a means of erasing bad driving; but only in the past few months have they really caught on - courts in Texas, Florida, and Virginia recently approved the offsite option. TrafficSchool.com (www.trafficschool.com), certified by the county of San Francisco, was my educator of choice. The course is split into seven sections that comply with each county's curriculum guidelines.

Sections end with a 10-question quiz - get at least seven correct and you can move on to the next. Unlike at other sites, I wasn't required to spend a specific amount of time on each topic before advancing. Halfway through, I tried to get sneaky. I'd skip each section, go directly to the quiz, and cut my class time in half - right? Wrong! I quickly realized there were a whole lot of rules I really didn't know, resulting in failure across the board.

The best part of this service is that I could work at my own pace. I even signed off for a few days for a much-needed road trip. Reentering the class was easy. I signed in with my email address and driver's license number, and I was automatically bounced back to where I left off.

I spent a total of two hours on the site reading and getting tested - way less than an entire day in a stuffy room with other scofflaws. After passing the last quiz, I was given instructions on how to take the final exam and the option to print out section study guides. Unlike other states, California requires traffic offenders to take the final test in person rather than online, automatically forwarding your test results to the court. I visited the nearest Mail Boxes Etc. (which has partnered with the traffic site for this specific purpose) and spent 15 minutes sweating over the paper test - then mailed out payments for my overdue parking tickets.

- Sonia Zjawinski

TrafficSchool.com: (800) 691 5014, www.trafficschool.com.

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