In Conn., Bad Driver Retraining Called a ‘Joke’

March 24, 2005

Connecticut officials are alarmed at the high recidivism rate of aggressive drivers forced to attend traffic offender school.

Nearly 42 percent of the 77,000 motorists who attended driver retraining between 2001 and 2003 were sent back to the program after receiving more tickets for speeding, tailgating or other moving violations, according to estimates by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Of the 32,000 drivers who had to repeat the traffic offender program, 59 percent had to enroll in driver retraining twice, nearly 25 percent took it three times and 17 percent took it four or more times, according to DMV statistics obtained by the Connecticut Post.

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal called the recidivism rate “strikingly high.” The state Office of Legislative Research calls it “significant.” New DMV Commissioner Ralph Carpenter, a former state trooper, said the rate was “cause for great concern.”

State Sen. Bill Finch, D-Bridgeport, put it another way. “It’s a joke, an absolute joke, the way this program works or doesn’t work,” Finch said. “How many times can we keep sending drivers back to these schools and see no appreciable difference in the aggressive way they handle themselves on the road?”

Jack Sousa, who runs the Driving School Association of Connecticut, sees the 41.5 percent recidivism rate as a positive number. He and the National Safety Council provide driver retraining classes.

“That, to me, shows that for 59 percent of the people who take it, this type of course, with its behavioral modification techniques, does work,” Sousa said. “Anybody who says otherwise is just out to bash it.”

This is an edited version of a longer story apearing in the March 21, 2005 print edition of Insurance Journal East.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

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