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Anyone who’s ever taken a six-hour defensive driving course knows that this is arguably the most boring six hours a human can endure. You don’t want to be there. The instructor doesn’t want to be there. And after the six hours (hopefully less if the instructor is merciful) you have not improved at all as a driver, but your insurance rates will have gone down slightly so it’s just barely worth it.

With that in mind, my friends Sean and Gil decided to try something a little different this past weekend: an online defensive driving course. The plan was to watch TV and drink beers while they breezed through it—the irony of a careless, distracted, and possibly drunk defensive driving course is not lost on me—but as it turns out, the online version is actually fairly complicated.

According to Sean, the online course is programmed with little pauses so users can’t skip through the whole thing as quickly as possible. If you do finish a section early, the program keeps you there for a predetermined amount of time to make sure you’re actually doing the required reading. It also asks you choose a password at the beginning of the course and every so often re-enter it to prove you’re still there (and awake).

The biggest issue Sean and Gil faced was re-entering their passwords. The program wasn’t recognizing them even though they were typing it in carefully and correctly as they had at the start. This snafu stalled their progress for the weekend, and they were forced to wait until Monday morning when they could get a live person from the company on the phone to explain the situation and troubleshoot.

When Sean called the company today, they were able to reset his password, only to have it still not work when he tried it again. He called a second time and they explained that the password not only needs to be correctly typed, but also typed at the same speed that it was originally entered when he started the course. Sean’s initial reaction in his head, as mine would have been: “How the f*** do I know what speed I typed it???” To his credit, he kept his cool and convinced the customer service guy to disable that feature so he could finish the course.

But forcing users to match the speed of their original password? Talk about overthinking it. At this writing, it will have been a two full days, or 48 hours, since Sean and Gil started the online defensive driving course, and they still haven’t completed it.

Instead of creating a more efficient defensive driving course that saves time and money (the online course was $30 versus the $45 in-person course), this company, Empire Safety Council, created one that takes much longer, is far more aggravating, and will still teach its users next to nothing about defensive driving—and possibly induce new strains of road rage.

Have you had similar issues with online defensive driving courses? Are there any in the marketplace that aren’t as poorly designed? Let me know in the comments section.

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