RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ For Virginia motorists caught speeding on state highways, a trip on the information superhighway could be their ticket out of a Saturday at driving school.

Those looking to keep the violation from affecting their insurance rates can now go online to and take the traffic safety course at their convenience.

``It was easier to do and cheaper,'' said Sven Bridstrup, 37, a Leesburg air traffic controller who was ticketed for speeding earlier this year.

Bridstrup chose the $49.95 online course over the traditional one, which can cost up to $75. It took him four hours to finish, half the time a traditional course would take.

A supervised final exam is required to guard against cheating. After completing the course, Virginia users must take the final test at certain Kinko's copy centers.

``You could take the test on your lunch hour if you wanted,'' said Sam Crump, president of

Cities in other states _ including California, Oregon, Utah and Nevada _ already use the service. Virginia, which joined in May, is the only one to accept it statewide, Crump said.

The new system is not without its critics.

``The inconvenience of it is part of the punishment,'' Mike Perez, who owns ABC Driving School in Portsmouth, told The Virginian-Pilot. ``It's a hassle to go on a Saturday, a whole Saturday. It's a deterrent. They don't want to have to come back, because it's not fun.''

About 80,000 people each year are cited in Virginia for a variety of traffic offenses and opt for driver improvement clinics.


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