Recently, my mother called saying we could lower our car insurance bills if we passed online safe driving examinations.

Thus began one of the most awful, time consuming experiences of my life.

I called our insurance company to see if this driving test thing was true, and lo and behold, it was.  Sweet!  The lady on the phone sent an email with a link to the proper online exam.

So she said.

I didn’t receive the email until the next day and, upon following the link it provided, discovered that the test it led me to did not qualify for our state. Lame.  I called the insurance company again, relayed this story to another associate, who pointed me in the direction of the actual test.


You have to pay for the test.

Not excellent!

It’s $19.99.

Not too bad.

With a 12.99 processing fee.

%&#*ing graaaahhh.

I begrudgingly paid the fee and was able to log into the “online classroom.”  The first page explained that there would be a series of pages mostly covered in text, but some featured videos.  At the end of each section, there would be a quiz, and at the end of the entire lesson, there would be a final exam.

I figured this wouldn’t take too long, but upon scrolling down it said that the minimum completion time was 300 minutes.  Furthermore, before you can take the quiz at the end of a section, you must have spent a specific amount of time reading through that section, otherwise the quiz would not appear.  Suddenly it felt as though this would take longer than the prescribed time.

Lesson One (Section time: 10 minutes)

The first section consisted of two pages that covered the basic rules of the exam.  You need 80% of the questions right to pass, once the final exam begins you can’t go back to review material, if you are idle for longer than seven minutes you will be logged out, etc.  The next page had a test video to make sure the browser’s flash player was working.

After hitting next on the video page, a multiple choice answer question appeared.  “Were you able to watch the video on the previous page?” it asked, and gave me a yes/no choice.  “Yes,” I selected and hit next.

You have not spent enough time reviewing the material in this section.  Please review the material until you are allowed to take the quiz.

Wait… what?  There’s a quiz for the rules of the test?  Isn’t that a bit silly?  Also, there were two pages of text (just two small paragraphs), a one minute long video, and one multiple choice question… that was supposed to occupy ten minutes?

I literally sat around for five minutes doing nothing but hitting “next” and “previous” until the quiz decided to appear.

The question: What percentage of answers need to be correct to pass this test?

You’ve got to be kidding me.  I sat around for five minutes during a safe driving test in order to answer a question that had absolutely nothing to do with safe driving.

To top it off, that was the only question on the quiz.  Awesome.

Lesson 2 (Section time: 15 minutes)

As you might imagine, lesson two did not take me fifteen minutes to read through; as it turned out, it took about seven.  Once again, I sat around periodically shifting my gaze from the ceiling to the wall.  At least the quiz this time had features that were about driving, a welcome departure from the first test.

I hit next after the quiz and saw a screen featuring no buttons (next, previous) that declared,

Break time: After a 12 minute mandatory break, the next and previous buttons will appear.

You.  Have.  Got.  To.  Be.  Kidding.  Me.

First off, the people taking this test are adults, they can choose to take a break if they feel as though they need it, the decision shouldn’t be made for them.  Second, the “lesson” has only gone on for twenty five minutes, who on Earth needs a break after twenty five minutes of light reading and watching some silly videos?  Patently ridiculous.

Apparently there would be a break every two sections.  This break time was not included in the 300 minutes talked about earlier.

This was extra torture time.

You might be wondering what kind of questions were featured on this test and, if you are, fear not!  I have some of them for you!  Here are some of the gems I came across:

Immediately after watching a video about the financial burden car accidents place on society, the test asked:

“What was this video about?  Was it about,

1. The cost of auto accidents

2. The cost of airplane accidents

3.  The cost of train crashes”

If in the event whoever taking the test somehow didn’t see the video, couldn’t they, I dunno, guess that the answer would be “auto accidents?”  This test is about safe driving.

“The safest place to put a child in the car is,

1.  The back seat

2.  The front seat

3.  The hood of the car”

If I have to take this test seriously, the test should take itself seriously and not include absolutely ridiculous answers.

“Which of the following can impair your driving ability?

1.  Drugs/Alcohol

2.  Your emotional state

3.  Both A&B”

Despite the fact that the question was actually on topic, this might have been the biggest facepalm moment of the test.  “A&B?” the answers are numbered.  This might be an insignificant thing to get frustrated about, but come on, this is a government sponsored test that I paid roughly thirty five bucks for… can’t it at least feel professional?

I started the test at 10am, and through the influence of having to wait for section quizzes and mandatory breaks, it was 5:40pm by the time I had finished all the lessons.  Now it was final examination time.

Twenty questions.

The final exam, after hour and hours of nonsense and silly videos, was twenty questions.

I got 20 out of 20 right, printed my damned certificate, and felt more frustrated that I had in a long while, so much so that I probably wouldn’t have been safe behind the wheel if I chose to drive at that particular moment.

As a matter of fact, every time I step into a vehicle from here on out, chances are that I, at least briefly, will remember this test and get annoyed, which affects driving.

In other words, while the “safe driving” course will help lower the insurance bill, it will decidedly have a negative effect on my driving ability.