Several years ago while still living in California I had the distinct displeasure of getting a speeding ticket. Of course I did the traffic school thing--now online--and boy, what a shock! First, it was a lot of work! Seven lengthy chapters of 10-20 pages each, a quiz after each chapter and a final test. It was pretty serious stuff. But perplexing and even disturbing, was that saturated throughout the training was some of the worst examples of bereaucratic twaddle I have witnessed in my lifetime. Really, these folks are in charge of motor vehicle laws?
The most egegious nonsense was the repeated references to the motorcycle's inherent instability. I'm not making this up! Here's the quote.
What!? This idiocy was restated at least three times throughout the program. What fantasyland is the creator of this matetial living in? There were many other interesting, and usually funny statements. Here are a few more. Remember, these are quotes...When following bicycles or motorcycles, you need extra room in case the rider loses control
of the bicycle or motorcycle.
Really? Eighty-five percent of California drivers are brain-dead? So says the state.Yellow light--85% of drivers on American roads do not know the proper course of action to
take when faced with a steady yellow traffic light.
Hmm. Did you know this?Smoking in a vehicle--As of 2008, California Health and Safety Code 118947 makes it an
infraction for any person to smoke a cigarette, pipe, or cigar in a motor vehicle when a
minor is present in the vehicle. The law applies whether the vehicle is at rest or in motion
and is punishable by a fine not exceeding $100.
Yup, distracted driving is serious. But have you ever seen this comparison of hands-free versus hand-held? Very interesting.Cell phone use while driving [which by the way is illegal in California]-- A University of Utah
report shows that talking or texting while behind the wheel alters a driver's reaction time in
the same way as a DUI-worthy blood alcohol level of 0.08%. Hands-free (bluetooth) devices
have been shown to have the same effect on the brain as talking, texting, or drinking. It's
not the act of dialing a number or holding a phone to your ear that causes the distraction in
the first place. It's the fact that your mind's attention is diverted from watching the road. Any
kind of cell phone use while driving, whether hands-free or hand-held, reduces the brain
activity used for driving by 37%.
I found this interesting because although I knew the mores of society had changed regarding bicycles and street traffic I had no idea it was law. Those of us over 50 remember when it was considered wrong to ride a bicycle on the street. We had to get off and walk the bicycle across a crosswalk.Bicycles--Bicycles play an increasingly important role in our nation's overall transportation
system. Many people think bicycles do not belong on the streets. However, they have as
much right to be on the road or highway as do motor vehicles.
Really? When did this change? High school Driver's Ed did a good job pounding into our (at least my) heads that the 10 and 2 positions were the only correct hold. Interesting.The traditional steering hold no longer recommended--There are two methods for holding
a steering wheel that are generally accepted as the safest ways, as we stated at the
beginning of this course. The first is to hold the wheel with your hands in the positions of 8
o'clock and 4 o'clock. Holding your steering wheel in this manner is widely
regarded as the most useful method for maintaing control of your vehicle in the event of an
emergency situation on the road. The second method is to hold your hands at 9 o'clock and
3 o'clock on the wheel. This method is steadily gaining popularity and support as a more
comfortable way of holding your steering wheel, while still affording the same control that
the first technique offers.
There are many other surprising things regarding motorcycles in the California vehicle code, things that as a lifelong rider and a 46-year veteran of the powersports industry I found startling. For example the repeated reminders for motorcyclists to ride in the center of the lane. This is suggested from the standpoint of securing your right to the lane and actively discouraging car drivers from attempting to push you out if it. And I appreciate that sentiment. But it is obvious a motorcycle rider did not write that instruction. As good as that sounds, it is wrong. Historically, motorcyclists have preferred to ride slightly to one side of the lane's center to avoid the grease and debris that accumulates there. I actually got this question wrong on my written driving test once years ago, because even then California was clueless about how motorcyclists actually ride.
Taken with the absurdity about motorcycles always crashing and other nonsensical statements, I find it odd that the state of California, with more motorcycles than anywhere else in the nation, has historically communicated so much that is unfriendly toward motorcyclists and demonstrably unaware about the biking community.
And finally, more proof that state authorities have lost their friggen minds! The aforementioned disregard for the seriousness of motor vehicle safety is not limited to the state of California. My wife recently did her online traffic school here in Arizona and after wading through a couple hours of mindless instruction, the final test was found to be...wait for it!...on the antics and quips of a cute, talking dog!
Watch out for yourselves. There are crazies everywhere.