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Automotive / Cars and Drivers


Subject:  Re: tornado Date:  3/24/2002  4:36 PM
Author:  WotPeed Number:  3639 of 11896

Three lanes and you drove down the center and had to flick into the left or right lane and not hit pylons. This was also fun but a lot more hairy.

This sounds like something I had to do after I got a few too many tickets as a teenager. In Orange County they used to have something called the Fresh Start program. It was for people who had already used up their 1 or 2 trips to traffic school allowed within a certain amount of time. You had to request this program from the judge, and it wasn't cheap, but if you were allowed to go and successfully completed the program then the ticket didn't show up on your record.

I must admit that I probably had more fun in Fresh Start than I should have, considering it was a punishment. It was just like traffic school half of the time, but the other half was behind the wheel training. One of the tests was to drive full speed down the middle of 3 lanes, with a red traffic light above all 3 lanes. When you passed a certain point, the lights over one of the outer lanes would turn green. Your task was to successfully swerve into the lane with the green light without wiping out all the cones that made up the lanes. It wasn't really that hard (the cars were old Datsuns with automatic tranies) but I'd say 1/3 of the people would just guess and end up choosing the wrong lane, 1/3 would go towards the proper lane but wipe out all the cones (or spin out completely), and 1/3 did it successfully. Thankfully I was part of the latter 1/3.

There were other tests too...parallel parking, the usual winding track without knocking over cones, backing up in a straight line, etc. It wasn't exactly the way I wanted to spend 2 weekends but it didn't feel much like punishment. Unfortunately I think the court decided that graduating from Fresh Start didn't correlate to fewer tickets so they did away with the program. Too bad.


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