This post does not actually involve driving (or at least, not much).  Instead, I will regale you with the sheer Shangri-La that is the Defensive Driving class I took the other evening.

You see, I'm a little ashamed to admit it, but I recently got a speeding ticket.  My first, ever.  (For those trying to count how long my ticket-free streak was, it was about 13.5 years.)  I was (briefly) going 80 mph in a 65 mph zone, and the police officer that pulled me over kindly explained that since no one on my insurance policy had taken a Defensive Driving course in the last 3 years, I could opt to take the course and receive a PJC (Prayer for Judgment Continued) in lieu of points on my license and a hike in my insurance premium.  I can't say I was eager to attend the class, but I definitely thought going to a 4 hour Defensive Driving lecture beat the alternatives!

I won't bore you with the details of the class itself (you'll have to "earn" your own PJC to get that privilege), but there were some interesting or funny things I wanted to share:

Class Distributions

Total Students in class = 37
Gender Breakdown
Men - 24
Women - 13
Age Breakdown (I'm not the best judge of age,
so this is approximate)

  < 20 = 3
20 < 30 = 4
30 < 40 = 20
40 < 60 = 9
  > 60 = 1 (77 years old, and this was his
first ticket ever!)
Offense Breakdown
Speeding (5 mph or less over the limit) ~ 3%
Speeding (6-15 mph over the limit) ~ 65%
Speeding (16 - 25 mph over the limit) ~ 20%
Running Red Light or Stop Sign ~ 6%
Failing to move out of the right lane when
emergency vehicles are on the shoulder ~ 3%
Other (I can't remember) ~ 3%

Some of the Interesting People I Met

  • One guy there is, ironically enough, a race car driver who received a speeding ticket.  I checked out his website, and it turns out that he's also the nephew of Olivia Newton-John!  (See for yourself here).
  • One girl talked about having been the victim of someone who was suffering from road rage.  In her words: "My boyfriend and me were driving home and we pissed someone off and they followed us home and pulled into the driveway behind us.  But it was okay – my boyfriend stayed in the car and I just went into the house and got my gun.  They left us alone after that."
  • One guy received a speeding ticket for speeding on his motorcycle.  The police officer reduced his 55 in a 35 to a 43 in a 35 on the ticket.  What the officer was willing to overlook:
    • The motorcycle had CA plates even though he was an NC resident.
    • He didn't have a motorcycle license (just a regular driver's license).
    • He didn't have insurance on the motorcycle.
    • He didn't have the motorcycle's registration with him.
    • (I'd call him one of the luckiest guys in the world!)
  • One guy talked about having suffered from road rage himself, a long time before, when he was living in New York City.  Apparently, a cab driver had cut him off, and when he gave the guy the finger, the cabbie spit on his car, gave HIM the finger, and sped off.  When he caught up with him at the next light, this guy hopped out of his car to confront the cab driver, who ALSO got out of his car.  Our classmate explained that he then pulled his "The Club" from his car and hit the cabbie in the head with it.  He was subsequently arrested and charged with assault.

  • One girl asked what cars these other people were driving so she could make sure she never pissed them off.
  • Before the class had started, one girl came in and explained that she had only brought cash to pay for the class + court costs, even though the flier you receive with your ticket says in big bold letters NO CASH ACCEPTED.  She walked into the classroom (of ~20 people at the time), walked across 3/4 of the classroom, and singled ME out to ask if I had a credit card and would be willing to charge her fees to the card and she would reimburse me in cash.  I guess I look like the kind of guy that had a credit card.  (Or the kind of guy that wouldn't say no.)  She was right on both counts.

There was one interesting fact they showed us in the class that I wanted to share, though.  It was in the booklet they gave us, on a page called "Speed Kills".

There's probably something wrong with me, given that upon seeing this, my first thought was, "Wow, if I can save 5 minutes every 10 miles, I'm saving almost a whole hour every 100 miles…I should be driving 85 mph on every road trip!"

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