I THOUGHT I HAD SCHEMED the system when my able attorney (who, for legal reasons, shall remain nameless) got me a bargain of a plea: a slap on the wrist for a reckless driving charge. Haaa!
You are thinking, "What on earth were you doing to have such heinous offense hanging over your head? Careening across an elementary school playground? Running through multiple stop signs full tilt? Weaving through heavy traffic on two wheels?"
No, I was driving down a Chapel Hill thoroughfare going a radar-detected 46 miles per hour. I was cruising through the speed trap otherwise known as Weaver Dairy Extension, which is a divided roadway with center turn lanes, right turn lanes and an inexplicable 25-mile-an-hour speed limit. (How inexplicable? Don’t tell the officer citing me, but as I drove away from being ticketed, 100 yards down the same road, I looked at my speedometer and I was going well over 30 mph. My car wouldn’t go 25 mph on that road.) With 46 mph being 21 miles per hour over the posted limit, I could be convicted of reckless driving.
But with my new and reduced charge of improper equipment (which was, apparently, either my faulty brain or my vehicle itself), by paying court costs and a fine (plus some quite reasonable legal fees), my lawyers and the court will cut the insurance middlemen out of the deal as I will get no points on my license.
And, one other thing, I had to take the online driving course. But how hard could that be? (Only the parallel-parking element stymied me last time I took such a test back in 1966.)
The I DRIVE SAFELY® AAA Online Traffic School Course, North Carolina edition, which is, according to them, "Simple. Affordable. Hassle-Free," is anything but. Simple? Only if by that they meant for simpletons. Affordable? Only if you only count the fee for the course, and not what the minimum of 10 hours of your life it consumes. (You figure it out: plumbers get $175 per hour and I have a Ph.D.) And hassle-free? Only if you don’t count multiple visits to the cosmetic surgeon for the hair implants (which I needed after pulling my hair out while taking said test.)
But I guess I should discount both the course fee and the opportunity-costs lost by all the valuable things I garnered from idrivesafely.com, highlights of which I will freely share with you. (All entries are verbatim, edited only for simplicity's sake.)
An intersection is a point where any two or more roadways intersect or come together.
Commercial buses transport an assortment of passengers.
There is a higher concentration of pedestrians in urban environments.
Watch for signs identifying a street as one-way. For example, you may see signs that say ONE WAY.
Using your horn can be beneficial or very irritating to other drivers.
The goal of every driver is to get to their destination safely.
The vehicle's engine provides the power required to move the vehicle across the surface of the road.
Moisture will begin to freeze as the temperature drops below 32 degrees.
If your hood flies up on the highway your visibility can be significantly impaired.
Elderly, handicapped, or blind pedestrians might move slowly through intersections. . . . Do not honk your horn or shout at them.
Do not use your horn directly behind . . . a horse rider on the side of the roadway.
Never use obscene hand gestures when driving.
Becoming angry or aggressive will not get you to your destination any sooner.
What do you think the nearly 8,000 people who were not wearing seat belts and died in motor vehicle crashes would do differently?
Sorry, but now that I have reviewed this treasure trove of life-saving wisdom, I realize it was worth my every minute and every single penny. If you would like to take the course too, the quickest way is to take a drive down Weaver Dairy Extension, you'll be signed up in no time.
Gary D. Gaddy actually did get something mildly useful out of the I DRIVE SAFELY® AAA Online Traffic School Course: this column.
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday March 4, 2011.
Copyright 2011 Gary D. Gaddy