These days, most people who take defensive driving complete the course online. There is a lot to be said for the convenience of dismissing a ticket from the comfort of home, sometimes commiserating with a group of fellow “ticket getters” can be quite entertaining. I helped hundreds of people dismiss traffic tickets in my years as a defensive driving instructor and, while not all of them may have felt the same, I always had a great time while doing it.
Excuses Are like Noses, Everybody’s Got One
One of the greatest takeaways of a classroom course that you will never get online is found in the stories you will hear from people about how and why they got their tickets. It is amazing what you can learn about people (and the law) through these anecdotes. For example, did you know that ambulance drivers are given a free pass on red lights but that they still have to drive the speed limit? I learned that little tidbit from an ambulance driver taking my class who had received a ticket from an overzealous cop who pulled the ambulance over while it was transporting a patient to the hospital!
Circling back to red lights, I once had a student who had received multiple red light tickets, 15 of them in fact. In his defense, he put no lives at risk while running these red lights and was by no means alone when he ran them. This young man was just trying to save time driving to the lake by turning on his headlights and falling in with a funeral procession. Unfortunately, wearing a swimsuit, flip-flops and sunglasses, he was unsuccessful in convincing the police officer that he was among the mourners.
Sometimes the Funny Has Nothing to Do with Driving
The driving school that I worked for carefully constructed its course in a way that was interactive and engaging. The first order of business was to engage in these sorts of introductions and icebreakers you might see it a standup comedy show. I’ll never forget the one class where in one sentence a student provided more laughter for the other students than the rest of the “comedy” course provided.
While going through some of my standard warm-up questions, an attractive young woman answered in a distinctly non-Texan accent. In response, I slipped into a very Texas accent and drawled “You ain’t from around here, are ya?” She responded by saying that she was from Puerto Rico. Shifting back to my normal voice, I confess to warning to someday travel there, understanding it to be a lovely place. She confirmed that it was and that such a trip should remain on my bucket list. She also said since coming to America, she had learned the importance of speaking carefully about her country of origin. When I asked her to clarify what she meant, she said she ran the risk of being misinterpreted unless she took the utmost care while declaring that her country was a “land of beautiful beeeeches.” Needless to say, that comment killed the room and I was forced to admit that, clever as I was, they would hear nothing as funny as that for the next 5 ½ hours.