I rolled a stop sign last month and I received a well deserved ticket.
When it came time to pay the ticket, I elected to pay an additional $32 to the City and County of San Francisco and $20 to online provider of traffic school in this jurisdiction. This allows take a course and a test. Once I pass the test, I can have the infraction removed from my driving record, protecting my insurance rates, and presumably rendering me a better, safer driver.
I went through the course materials and took the chapter tests. The content was reasonably well presented, although the web site was annoyingly slow and there were a number of infelicitous UI decisions (arrows that seemed to imply links, but didn’t, no url or other identifying information in the e-mail that they sent me to confirm my registration, etc.)
Some of the material that was presented in the course and the chapter quizzes didn’t seem like it was particularly important to the goal of improving my driving skills and making me a safer, more responsible driver. Material on what constituted valid forms of identification at the DMV is useful, but it isn’t going to keep me from pulling out into traffic when I don’t have the right of way.
Little did I know. After I completed the course, I was directed to take a final exam that was administered by NTSA, the National Traffic Safety Administration, which is not the NHTSA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA is a branch of the Federal government. NTSA is not:
NTSA provides home study traffic school course review and evaluation to insure compliance with all Court requirements and standards. All home study traffic school course reviews conducted by NTSA for court approval, are conducted by Mr. Ernie Garcia, a retired Highway Patrol Lieutenant with 30 years of experience.
In theory, NTSA is an independent agent that can ensure that the student has taken the course and has learned the material. Each independent provider of traffic school sends their students on to NTSA for final testing.
This final exam is crazy. I thought that my browser had been hijacked, or that I was the subject of a prank. Some of the questions were ridiculous beyond belief.
In case you aren’t following me, these three questions pertain not to the Motor Vehicle Code or rules for defensive driving, but to the very specific version of the course materials that I studied. The first refers to a specific illustration in the course materials, the second and third to how the material was presented.
It gets worse.
This test question is asking me about the background color of a particular item?! Unbelievable.
Worse, there is no right answer listed. The background is neither yellow, purple, orange, red, nor blue. It is white, I checked the html.
The background color for that particular paragraph is the same as the preceding one, only the font color is changed to red. Red is not the correct answer.
There are 40 questions on each test. The student must get 20 out of 24 on the questions that pertain to DMV materials and 13 out of the 16 questions that “NTSA develops with each traffic school, security, or course specific questions that relate to specific events in their course that have nothing to do with the required curriculum information of the course.”
Is anyone well served by these questions? The point is to ensure that the person taking the exam is the same as the person who took the course. Or, or from the exam web site, “To reasonably insure that the person taking the traffic school course is the one taking the final examination.” I don’t suppose that you could accurately answer these questions unless you had looked at the course, but I read through the course and I couldn’t remember how many rows of signs there were in a particular illustration or what the first illustration in Chapter 3 was. I have a reasonably good memory for this sort of material, but come on.
Couldn’t the independent traffic schools content be differentiated by content instead of layout? The course materials had various random content, jokes, even a couple of lines about how the school website was created with Dreamweaver. Do they really have to test on formatting?
I was expecting the blood and gore movies of my high school driver’s education classes. This is scarier.
It just reinforces my previous beliefs that traffic school is a scam.
- Posted November 24, 2007 in: Daily Living,San Francisco
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