Thursday, April 20, 2006

Traffic School not what it used to be

I was a bad boy. 56 MPH in a 40 MPH zone.

Not that I believe I was as bad as that, but I'm not about to risk $500 on the possibility that I can convince the judge the officer had bumped the speed up a notch to make it more painful. I drive a fast looking car. I passed a slow-moving vehicle (which was in the left lane of a four-lane highway). And I can make all the excuses in the world.

I got caught. I got a ticket. And to avoid the biggest penalties in Florida, I have traffic school.

Quite a few years ago, I got nailed for 72 in a 55 zone. It was a righteous bust; I was remarkably stupid on some things, even when I was on top of my game as a pundit. I chose the traffic school route then as well. As the Internet had not yet come into its own, traffic school was a Saturday morning class at the only game in town - and boring. So boring, I'm sure someone had to make a B-movie about it, because it was so easy to parody.

Times have changed. Within days that had become obvious to me. I've received no fewer than a dozen invitations to enroll in a traffic school, and most offer options: classroom, of course, but also videotape, DVD, and even the Internet. Traffic school from the comfort of my living room or office.

And some of them even promise to be funny.

I'll drop names, but not links, because every one of them most certainly contribute to the spam problem in the blogosphere. I know this, because I went looking. I wanted to know what bloggers thought about each of these schools, and instead of well-composed opinions, I found countless ad blogs with no redeeming value. I wouldn't spend money on any of them, except that I do want the services of one of them. The only question is which?

  • American Safety Council offers "the lowest price without hidden fees" ($18.88) and tells me of "fees" charged by others (ranging from $2.50 to $7.50) that they suggest are not legit fees. I believe them on the fees issue, just as car dealers charge fees that aren't anything more than efforts to boost profit. But that doesn't mean I have to buy from them.
  • Sarasota County Technical Institute, an entity run by a local school board, will charge me $25 to go to school, or $32 to attend on the web. I know they're legit, but they're likely to be as boring as my first time at traffic school.
  • CheaperinFlorida, a dot com, doesn't give me a physical or mailing address (unless I visit their site to find a classroom), and starts their price at $13.95, plus a "state fee surcharge" that American Safety Council says might be as much as $2.50. And who knows about other fees applied at the point of purchase. But they say they have comedy classes.
  • Improv Traffic School certainly implies comedy, but doesn't come out and say so in their postcard. They claim they will beat any accredited traffic school by $2.00... probably before tacking on those fees.
  • FunnyinFlorida is definitely comedy-oriented, with classroom sessions costing $25, video and DVD for $29.95, and Internet for $24.95. No mention of "fees" and they "guarantee" the lowest price.

These are only a few of my choices. With the clock running, I turn to you, my readers, and ask for feedback on these courses. Let me know your thoughts on who's legit, who isn't. Please help me from getting burned.

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