“A guy with a traffic citation walks into a classroom…” With a set-up like that, you can imagine how bad the joke would be. Well, let’s hope that the Great Comedians Traffic School has better humor writers than we do, since that’s the “angle” that they’ve chosen for their course. Can cartoons and funny stories make going to traffic school and successfully passing the final test any more palatable than it would be otherwise? Frankly, we don’t think so, but it probably can’t hurt.
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Who Is Eligible
Anyone with a California driver’s license who receives a traffic citation can take this course if (a) they haven’t taken a traffic school course in the last 18 months, (b) the ticket does not carry more than a one-point penalty against their driving record and (c) they were not operating a vehicle that requires a commercial driver’s license. (Drivers with a commercial license can take the course if they were not operating a commercial vehicle when they received the citation.) Success will lead to the conviction being “masked” by the court, so it does not appear on the public record. That means that the driver’s insurance will not go up and driving-related employment should probably not be affected.
How It Works
As with all other traffic schools accredited with the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles, Great Comedians Traffic School offers a course of instruction that meets state standards for the subject matter covered. Upon enrolling, the student receives the equivalent of instruction (in-class, written or on-line) of a 42,500-word course provided over a 340 minute minimum time period, not including the final exam. If the course, and the exam, are successfully completed before the court date, the school sends notification to the court that the student has passed.
The on-line course, which is not only the least expensive but also the most flexible in terms of scheduling, requires a Personal Identify Validation questionnaire: The enrollee is asked a series of questions to which they should, theoretically at least, be the only person able to answer. Throughout the course, particularly when logging in, these questions will pop up and the correct answers are supposed to validate that the person taking the course is actually the one who is required to. At the end of every chapter, there is a three-question quiz that has to be successfully completed before proceeding onto the next one. After moving through all the chapters (chock full of cartoons and driving jokes!), the student can take the final exam. Obviously, it’s an open-book test (how could it not be?), although it is timed. A passing grade is 70% or above, but if the enrollee fails the first time, a second chance is allowed. Two failing grades and the whole process has to start over, fee and all. As long as the course and test are completed before the court date, students can log in at any time and work as slowly (or quickly) as their attention-span and threshold for the course’s jokes allow.
If someone doesn’t have easy access to the Internet – or just likes paper and ink – a book form of the course is available. It’s still filled with those wacky jokes, of course, but with determination the student can ignore them and get on with the task at hand. It does make it easier to study up for the final exam during those lonely middle-of-the-night hours while guarding the local nuclear power plant, for example. For those with an upbringing that compels them to undergo greater suffering, Great Comedians Traffic School offers classroom instruction. They promise – threaten? – “charismatic and entertaining speakers” plus their “Flipchart” presentations and educational videos. Since their courses are offered state-wide, they promise that classes can be taken at hundreds of “quality and convenient” locations throughout California. The classes are offered seven days a week, at times from 5:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., to fit in with a variety of schedules.
What We Like
Sugar-coating a driver’s-ed course with humor may seem a little silly, but Great Comedians Traffic School does seem to have their eye on the real purpose of the exercise: They say that taking their course can make you a safer driver “and perhaps even save your life!” The three methods you can take their course – on-line, self-study book or classroom – provide a great deal of flexibility. A discount coupon can usually be found with a little searching on the Internet, which is nice.
What We Don’t Like
Despite their relentless assurances that their humor-based course will keep the students’ attention and concentration at peak levels and make those hours of study just flash by like a 17-year-old in a muscle car at midnight on a deserted country road, we simply can’t bring ourselves to believe it. Face it: Traffic school is the State of California’s way of grinding drivers’ free-wheeling spirits into the dust. If you want driving humor, read P.J. O’Rourke’s classic book, How To Drive Really Fast… Without Spilling Your Drink. Otherwise, just accept the suffering and move on with life.