Two trips to San Antonio
Two speeding tickets
Within 1 year
An aggravation. Motivation to use the cruise control. Search for a route that does NOT include Illinois. I WAS speeding. My excuses work for me….listening to Book on Tape, driving on dry pavement on an interstate, pacing with traffic (my sister, bless her, adds another: Ken Hayes’ daughter)…but did not work for the Illinois State Patrol. I paid those tickets and challenged myself to do better.
So what was this registered letter which found me, even as I am moving between two residences?
“Records maintained by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) indicate that you must successfully complete a BMV-approved DRIVER SAFETY Program (DSP) within ninety (90) days from the date of this notice. A DSP, also knows as a defensive driving school program, is a four (4) hour course that is available in a classroom, video/DVD, and on-line formals. This is a BMV requirement under state statue and does not take the place of a course you may have been ordered to take by a court of law. If you fail to complete the BMV-approved DSP within ninety (90) days of the date of this notice, your driving privileges will be suspended effective…..”
Huh? Must be a mistake. I called my local BMV. “No ma’am, it’s not a mistake.”
But the tickets were in Illinois.
“Yes, we know.”
I paid them and they were NOT cheap. Isn’t that punishment enough?
“No ma’am. You must complete the course.”
Isn’t this for repeat drunk drivers?
“It is for most repeat offenders, ma’am.”
Oh. I have a record. BUSTED!
So, I laid the note in a prominent place and wrote 7/10/14 as the date that this MUST be completed. I then read further into the note. I could purchase a DVD, take the class on-line, or drive to an approved site for my instruction. The on-line option seemed the best but as I had never taken a course on-line, I did what I always do when faced with a task for which I lack confidence: I thought about it.
And thought about it. And thought about it.
Finally, last weekend, I moved from mental musings to physically firing up the computer to enroll in I Drive Safely, the program approved by the friendly folks at the BMV.
I figured that I could do this; I knew I would need at least 4 hours to do so but I could break it up. So first up, they took my money. Drivers who break rules get to pay here, pay there, pay all over the place. Then, the screen gave me about 20 Is-This-You questions that I would need to answer at the beginning of each section of the course. Nothing hard but none of those ‘favorite actor’ questions.
I then read....slowly...the instruction, as I did not want to mess this up and have to re-enroll. The course would take 4 hours. There would be 6 sections. Each sections would be broken into two or three parts. At the end of each section, there would be a test. I needed to get 70% or I’d be back taking that section over. Even if I got 70% or better, I was encouraged to review what I missed by revisiting that portion of the course.
AND, I must take a 10 minute break between sections. They warned me that this would be monitored and enforced. Well, ok.
The course began with introductions of the main instructors: Pixlar characters of what you might find in a generic automobile: Douglas Fur, the car deodorizer, shaped like a fir tree (get it?), Dash the Bobble head, Hula Lulu, Dusty the rag, and Deuce and Duna, the mirror dice. Sometimes they lectured; sometimes they argued with each other; sometimes, one would look right at me with information and then another would interrupt and explain with more detail. I was going to spend 4 hours, plus breaks, with these guys.
And there were humans also: Stress Guy, who sat at his desk and pounded on his computer terminal; Virus Girl, who needed some over-the-counter cold meds that made her drowsy; Police Officer on a motorcycle; Police Officer in a squad car; Safe Driving Man and Safe Driving Lady. They showed up to demonstrate good things and bad things.
For example, Stress Guy left his desk, stormed out to his car (he was late) and pulled out of the parking garage, the grrrrr on his face. I was sitting right next to him as he pounded on the steering wheel when he was stuck in traffic. This is a Bad Thing. Stress Guy, I’m told, has a big chance of tailgating (bad), weeving (bad), and cutting off someone else (bad). Plus he is NOT using his Safe Driving Skills. You have to think to use your Safe Driving Skills.
Virus Girl sneezed all over her keyboard (ick) and then took some cold pills. THEN, she drove herself home. I was sitting right next to her as her eyes began to droop and her head nodded. This is a Bad Thing. “Wake UP! Virus Girl!” She, I’m told, has reduced reaction time and may actually fall asleep at the wheel (bad). She certainly isn’t using her Safe Driving Skills.
As these two showed up several times, we got to know each other. As for the Police Officers (highly suggest this address when you are pulled over, by the way): Motor cycle Cop reminded us that we should approach, pass, and pull ahead of a motorcycle as if it were a car…give it this much space. Also, we should always look for motorcycles in our blind spot as they are NOT as big a car.
Squad Car Officer showed up to remind us what NOT to do when you are pulled over by him: don’t get out of the car; don’t make sudden movements; don’t reach for anything; don’t make jokes; don’t drive off until he releases you to do so.
Also, Squad Car Guy showed up if you tried to move ahead in the lessons without taking that 10 minute break. He stands, hands-on-hips, staring right at the student (I’ve heard) and reminds you to take a break.
I must say, I began with an attitude until Dash informed me that ¼ of all traffic deaths involve excessive speeding. There were a lot of other statistics, too. You are 70% more likely to survive an accident if you wear a seat belt. 50% of accidents involve impaired drivers – this includes those who are stressed out.
There was, of course, a lengthy section on drunken driving and the perils of mixing drugs with alcohol. I remember a grisly film from high school driver’s ed. about the same topic. Not much has changed except this time, we get to sit near parents who are interviewed as they sign the papers to donate their son’s organs.
I did get to sit next to Safe Driving Man and SD Lady as they did all sorts of good things. They always flash their signal before they change lanes. They always adjust their mirrors before they turn on the car. They always come to a complete stop when they are supposed to: several demonstrations about what is NOT a complete stop. Ooops.
I missed a few on the tests: at what distance from a bridge can you NOT pass? As I don’t pass much, this one didn’t stick. My choices (yeah, multiple choice and I still missed it) were 50 feet, 100 feet, 1000 feet and 2000 feet. Go ahead.
It’s 1000 feet. Ok, make a note.
I confess, I began the my required course with a less-that-positive attitude….I don’t drink and drive; I always wear my seat belt; I am the classic Type B….cut me off? God bless you. But as I progressed, with 10 minute breaks, I realized that there were some things I never got in high school and anyway, that was almost 50 years ago. Hey! EVERYBODY should take this class!
Then, as I drove to church, a good 65 miles of two-lanes, highways AND bridges, I found myself modeling some of Safe Driving Lady’s best habits. I learned a thing or two about safe driving.
AND, I will always use that speed control button, from now on. I promise, Squad Car Officer!