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Thursday, April 12, 2007
A trip to traffic school
A colleague, who asked to remain anonymous, recently received her first moving violation while driving through downtown Portland. Her crime? Cutting across two lanes of traffic while making a left turn onto SW 10th. Her punishment? A trip to the Portland Police Department's new "Share the Road Safety Class." In exchange for two hours of her time, she received a large deduction on her fine AND a certificate of completion AND a few stickers. In a post written by this blog's first guest blogger, she covers what went down in the class and the chaos that ensued in the parking lot afterwards as 150 "bad drivers" headed for home.
The guest speakers kept things moving at a fast pace with video clips and slides showing humorous ways that people break the rules. One clip showed a girl getting caught on a speed camera leaning over into her passenger seat to give her dog a smooch. In another clip, a guy ran across an intersection against the light with a coffee cup in hand. Another had a dude on a bike ride through a stop sign doing the nonchalant "no hands" pedal.
That's not to say there weren't any sad pics – the speakers were more than happy to show injured children. In general, they kept it on the happier "look at how nice it is when we all place nice" approach. Then they ran one last clip of a car turning right into someone with a grocery cart and breaking their arm. The final photo of the night: three adorable little boys holding a sign that read: "we share our toys so please share the road!"
It was painfully obvious that everyone was only there because they had to be. Still, by the end people were yelling out comments, laughing, and bouncing around because we were given a certificate and free stickers at the end.
Then horror struck. I had to drive home. There is no question who these people were around me – I saw them leave the parking lot. I saw them get on their bikes. And I saw WHY THE HELL THEY WERE IN THE CLASS IN THE FIRST PLACE. One hipster went by munching on an apple and riding his bike in and out of my lane. Another zipped by trying to catch him. Neither were wearing a helmet. A PT Cruiser tried to ram me off the road when she realized the lane I was moving into was the one that went onto I-5 South. In the space of four blocks I was nearly hit 3 times – a number that I usually only attain by daily driving in the downtown core over a period of weeks. These hipsters...these people...THEY DIDN'T LEARN A DAMN THING!
So to all you gents and gentesses who put on the safety course, thank you. Thanks for doing it, saving me some money and saving my driving record. One little things though – you might want to suggest your students leave in waves rather than all at once.
Just a thought.