[ some of this information was moved from bicyclist-diversion-programs-around-arizona ]
There are two distinct types of “Driving School” in Arizona; the first one Defensive Driving is generally attended after receiving a traffic ticket but before any trial in order to have the violation automatically dismissed; and the second Traffic Safety School is generally where drivers who have been found guilty/responsible for more serious infractions are ordered to attend.
Traffic Survival School
None of the above is to be confused with Traffic Survival School (TSS); which is ordered or required when found responsible/guilty of certain infractions or any condition when a driver accumulates 8 points or more within 12 months on their driver’s license. Notably red light violations (see SB1118 46th/1st 2003 Chapter 236), Flashing red violation, causing any death/serious injury w/moving violation, agressive driving, and DUI (because of points; dui is 8 points). There are some extra provisions for drivers under 18 years old.
Failure to comply results in license suspension. Also of note, TSS is overseen by MVD. For administrivia see ARS 32-2351 where TSSs are defined to be “Professional driver training school” (confusingly, there is a new version of that law 32-2351.01 becoming effective 7/1/2014 which drops the references to TSS altogether? wha??), see AAC (Arizona Administrative Code) R17-5-30x. Also found R17-5-318 Traffic Survival Schools but only in a rulemaking notice?
See here for some graphics from Attitudinal Dynamics of Driving and Young Adult Course Guide — this is the workbook used in all Arizona TSS (Traffic Survival School). The book is published by the National Safety Council and is generic to the entire US. The Arizona Chapter of NSC (ACNSC) has an exclusive contract with ADOT/MVD to administer all TSS classes in AZ — the ACNSC futher sub-contracts to a network of trainers that actually deliver the classes. E.g. centralized scheduling goes thru azstatetss.org. The ACNSC does not actually teach any of the classes (i’m not sure why). The ACNSC is responsible due to the contract with MVD to do administration of the overall program; e.g. keeping track of who is supposed to attend, and who has successfully completed.
Hunting around NSC training documentation online; it appears the booklet pictured above, and the 8-hour outline match up closely with their marketing brochure (SAP, SAMRIC) for Defensive Driving Course – Attitudinal Dynamics of Driving, Third Edition (backup copy). And appears current, e.g. This page that says “Newly revised in 2008, the 3rd edition has been completely overhauled to encompass new skill sets and mind sets to recognize the direct connection between drivers’ attitudes and their driving behaviors.” has listings for numerous instructor certification classes in 2014.
I grilled a recent TSS attendee (and she showed me the workbook, pictured above) about what might have been covered with regard to driving around pedestrians — she said “a little”. I asked her what an unmarked crosswalk was. She had no idea and said/claims that never came up. Upon asking about what was discussed with regard to driving around bicyclists she said there was nothing at all on on that topic.
So I eventually (it took a couple of public records requests, see comment below) to find out from MVD the outline and structure of what gets taught. It appears the only bicycle-specific topic appears as “optional” (and one of 18 optional topics!).
I had previously (i mean prior to receiving the outline from ADOT/MVD) spoke with Debbie at ACNSC on 5/23/2014 and she was very helpful; she had reviewed the material and confirmed there is nothing specific to bicycle operation; including in the ~ 2 hours state mandated material required by MVD. On the other hand, she was quite interested in putting some material in, and asked me to supply here with some general points. This is a huge opportunity; as there are ~ 3,000 drivers attending TSS PER MONTH in Arizona; even a few minutes of training would have a broad reach. Two resouces i plan to suggest are CyclingSavvy’s “Why do you ride like that?” and Kirby Beck’s Law and Order / Law Enforcement Magazine article (in particular the 6 “Road use perceptions”)
Defensive Driving Program
Note that the Defensive Driving Program (DDP; or sometimes called DDS for Defensive Driving School, and often referred to simply as “traffic school”) is overseen by the Arizona Supreme Court; and is enabled by specific legislation, see Title 28, Article 7, 28-3391 through 3399. Although clearly aimed and intended for motorist-violators, there’s nothing inherent in the legislation that restricts it to motorists; though because of the incentives involved, it is not attractive to bicyclists who have been cited [because of license “points” though this is an ongoing debate I’ve never gotten a full answer to]. This program is an industry unto itself and there’s a whole bunch of red-tape and administrivia involved.
Anyway, another search turned up this document, related to the matter at hand Evaluation of Traffic Violators Schools (TVS) Vs. Traffic Survival Schools (TSS) Report number: FHWA-AZ93-364 and contains this humorous tidbit in the intro “The suitability of a ‘defensive’ [i.e. the Defensive Driving Program/Course] for traffic offenders is certainly questionable. Clearly, the course was not designed for what is obviously an ‘offensive’ group of drivers”.