The Startling Language of Driver Safety Courses

badDrivingI recently took one of those defensive driving courses online, in order to get a discount on my car insurance rates.  This is not my first time taking the course, so I knew what to expect – one hour of material stretched to 6 hours through statistics rendered meaningless through lack of context (118,000 drivers are over 65 years old , and 124,000 are under 20!), potentially useful information with shaky relevance to driving (alcohol can cause peptic ulcers!), and startling contentions with no citations (20% or drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel!).

But we can all learn something from the prose stylings of whoever wrote up the bullet points for that course.  For one thing, they really know how excite the reader’s interest with sentences like “School buses carry our most precious cargo (children)”.  I mean, who ever would have guessed what they meant by “precious cargo” without that parenthetical?  School buses, after all, carry many other things, like, um, old gum, and the occasional forgotten pencil.

But my favorite is this bit of prose magic: “You might think that is true, but it is contrary to actuality”.  What kind of lame-o says “that is incorrect”, amirite?  “Contrary to actuality” is way classier, and I, for one, intend to use it from now on.


Filed under Grammar Gripery

2 Responses to The Startling Language of Driver Safety Courses

  1. A3

    I have done parent-taught driver’s ed with my kids … we entertained ourselves by pointing out the multitude of typos, grammar errors, and atrocious sentence constructions in the course.

    • admin

      Well, you have to do something to keep yourself entertained. I hope you didn’t refuse to turn the page for a minute and a half after everyone was done with it, like the online courses do.