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Driver smashes through school wall at Addison

Original post made on Feb 27, 2012

A young driver did several thousand dollars in damage to a building at Addison Elementary School on Saturday evening, Feb. 25, after she "panicked" and hit the gas pedal after backing into a tree.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, February 27, 2012, 5:29 PM

Comments (26)

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Learning to drive is a very difficult thing that we all go through and can relate to. Teaching a teen to drive is also a very difficult thing to do.

Did the driver have a license or a permit? Was there an adult in the car with her? Had she been driving less than a year?

My sympathies for her and her family. This is not going to be easy for her to get over.


Posted by Cathy, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 27, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Sorry but what was an inexperienced driver doing driving an SUV substantial enough to go right through a wall? Sympathies to the driver? What about sympathies to the 450 or so kids at Addison who don't have an MP room for the next goodness knows how many weeks!


Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 27, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

1. I am glad that no one (including the driver) was hurt.

2. Maybe student or permit drivers should not be allowed to drive in sensitive areas around schools, parks or daycare/retirement centers?

:-\


Posted by Hulkamania, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 27, 2012 at 8:41 pm

I remember years ago when we lived close to the intersection of Colorado and Waverley. Brand new driver blew through the Colorado stop sign heading east, got broadsided, went through a nice rail fence on the Waverley side of a corner house, spun through the front yard, exited back through the fence on the Colorado side, crossed back over Waverley heading west, and finally came to rest a half block away.

Her parents claimed the throttle stuck. Nice try guys.


Posted by suv, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 27, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Agree with Cathy that kids should not be allowed to drive SUVs or trucks. Those things are difficult enough for adults to control and cause much more damage when things go wrong. I wish the DMV required truck driver's licenses to drive those things, with additional training and testing requirements.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 27, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Really? Accidents happen, welcome to LIFE. I am glad no one was hurt.


Posted by HillbillyHeaven, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 27, 2012 at 11:44 pm

She was late for school and took most direct route into the class.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2012 at 7:12 am

Photos?


Posted by William, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2012 at 7:18 am

The decision not to cite is troubling. This driver should have her license suspended, pending a rigorous retest.

It's times like these that it seems that the driving tests are just too simple. The use of a driving simulator, that might include crash events to see what the driver might do would be something that might help to prepare people for the eventuality of an accident. Most people are involved, sooner or later. So, having some sense of what it might be like would be in everyone's interests.


Posted by Oh, dear, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 28, 2012 at 8:19 am

My sympathies to this young lady and her family. Hope she doesn't get into too much trouble.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 28, 2012 at 10:36 am

SO what do you do if you are the parents? I would be so worried about this child's ability to drive safely after an incident like this!


Posted by Friend, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 28, 2012 at 10:45 am

Let's see, hits a tree and drives THROUGH THE WALL OF AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL!!! Several people could have easily been killed! Why on Earth would this person not be cited? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 28, 2012 at 10:52 am

I think this is quite serious. Why was an inexperienced 17YO driver driving a SUV?! Seems like a poor choice as they are large (obviously) and can be hard to handle, big engines and so on. I think she should be cited, like anyone else who put an SUV-sized hole in a school! Thank God no students or staff at the school were injured. I suppose taxpayers are expected to now repair the damage, too...I get fed up with negligence like this. Inattention and/or inexperience are no excuses. She should be practicing in a safe open area until she has confidence to manage a huge, heavy machine like an SUV that certainly CAN mow someone down.


Posted by TC, a resident of Addison School
on Feb 28, 2012 at 10:56 am

A detail some readers seem to have missed is that this happened at 9:08PM. That's nighttime, and it's dark. I think that the outcome would have been different if it was light out.

I am a little bewildered by the lack of a citation though. Years ago, I got cited for an accident that was somebody else's fault because, and I quote, "when there's property damage, someone has to get cited." The responsible party in that accident was a PA police officer, and they were not going to give him a ticket. So I got one instead, for making a legal right turn with a green light. It was a very creative interpretation of the events.

What happened here seems very obvious, so the decision not to cite or at least suspend her license pending retesting seems odd to me.


Posted by Eric, a resident of Professorville
on Feb 28, 2012 at 11:16 am

The DMV is quite lenient about collisions even on a provisional license. (They don't call them "accidents" because usually there is nothing accidental about collisions!)

Keeping Your Provisional License

The DMV will track your driving record and take actions based upon any collisions or violations as follows:

[...]

• If you have one "at fault" collision or conviction within 12 months, DMV will send you a warning letter.

• If you have a second "at fault" collision or conviction (or combination
of both) within 12 months, you cannot drive for 30 days, unless accompanied by your licensed parent or other licensed adult who is at least 25 years of age.

• If you have a third "at fault" collision or conviction (or any combination) within 12 months, you will be suspended for six months and placed on probation for one year.

From the California Drivers Handbook, pages 10-12.
Web Link


Posted by would have saved a whole lot of trouble, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 28, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Web Link

Are night restrictions critical components of graduated licensing?

"Yes, 4 of 10 teen deaths on the road occur from 9 pm to 6 am, and night driving restrictions are associated with a 40-60 percent crash reduction during the restricted hours. A national study found much lower fatal crash rates of 15-17 year-olds under laws with strong restrictions. Those beginning at 9 pm cut the rates an estimated 18 percent, compared with no restriction. The reduction was 12 percent where driving was restricted after midnight. A study based on insurance claims reported similar results."

Are passenger restrictions important?

"Yes, they're essential because passenger presence is such a big contributor to the teen death toll. Fatal crash risk for teen drivers increases incrementally with 1, 2, or 3+ passengers. With 3 or more, fatal crash risk is about 3 times higher than when a beginner drives alone. Restrictions make a difference. A national study found a 21 percent reduction in the fatal crash rate of 15-17 year-olds when beginners were prohibited from driving with any teenagers in their vehicles versus allowing 2 or more. Allowing only 1 teen passenger reduced the rate 7 percent."


Posted by driver, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 28, 2012 at 1:42 pm

I worked as a driving instructor for a short time. Some people just should not drive, period. But we've made it seem like it's our right to have a license, and not the privilege that it is. The driving test is ridiculously easy. I think everyone should learn how to drive and take the test on a manual transmission car. If they can master that, then they can go to automatic.


Posted by anon, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 28, 2012 at 1:59 pm

So many of you folks are so quick to jump to conclusions about all this. I was on site, just after this occurred. And I know the driver very well. She has been driving for a year, with no infractions or accidents. She is a very careful driver. She made a mistake, but nothing more than that. And what exactly is the right size of car for a young person to drive? Maybe you would have been happier if the car was a small one, and the driver were to be injured. At least the damage to the school wouldn't have been so great. Is that a better outcome?


Posted by would have saved a whole lot of trouble, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 28, 2012 at 4:58 pm

"Maybe you would have been happier if the car was a small one, and the driver were to be injured. At least the damage to the school wouldn't have been so great. Is that a better outcome?"

Anon, and if there had been children sitting the other side of that wall? What is your take then?
This wasn't just hitting someone's garden wall. This was driving through the MP room of a local elementary school in a car too powerful for the driver to control.


Posted by Big picture, a resident of Professorville
on Feb 28, 2012 at 7:45 pm

You all have WAY too much time on your hands with this one. It was an unfortunate accident, with no need for hand-wringing and second-guessing. Young drivers make mistakes; nice kids going to a well-funded schools will adapt to the inconvenience of the damaged room.

There are plenty of bigger fish to fry if you drive 3 miles east of the school site.


Posted by Jerry Tinney, a resident of Monroe Park
on Feb 28, 2012 at 9:25 pm

I can't believe all the rhetoric about driving a suv or a truck. What does that have to do with flooring the gas pedal instead of the brake. I am sure that a VW bug would go through a wall if you get run at it under full acceleration. Suv's or trucks turn,stop and accelerate just like any other vehicle.. I have driven a truck most of life.
This girl should have her drivers license suspended pending a further review of her ability to drive any vehicle. She obviously does not know how to control a vehicle or is emotionally unstable. Any vehicle is a lethal weapon in the hands of person who is no . to control it

emotionally


Posted by careful, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 28, 2012 at 9:49 pm

I've noticed that adult drivers of SUVs and trucks tend to drive much more aggressively than drivers of small cars. Couple that "I'm the biggest animal on the road so I should dominate" mindset with teen inexperience, and you've got an increased probability of avoidable accidents.

My car was totaled by a teen who lost control of the pickup truck after he came peeling out of the high school lot. He was not cited. I also observed another teen driver deliberately driving recklessly around the school lot, faster and faster until he crashed into a car that fortunately was unoccupied (other students were cowering in their cars). He also was not cited!

In yet another incident, a high school student hurrying to a baseball game took a "shortcut" that caused him to crash into the front of Encinal School in the Menlo Park school district. This was during the school day, and it was a miracle that no one was hurt. I don't believe this driver was cited; in fact, because he was the child of well-connected and affluent parents, the accident was never even reported in the local press.

So the pattern of cutting youth drivers a lot of slack continues.


Posted by LS, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 28, 2012 at 10:25 pm

The attacks about this girl being emotionally unstable is idiotic. You as an adult attacking a 17 year old girl is ridiculous. You have no idea what is going on in her life to make those assumptions. Things are called accidents for a reason, the girl DID NOT mean to run into the wall, I can promise you that.

And to: would have saved a whole lot of trouble
about your question: if there had been children sitting the other side of that wall? What is your take then?
It was at night, so there would not be students behind the wall. I am also so over these "What Ifs?" No one was hurt, and you are wasting your time pondering over issues that did not happen.


Posted by would have saved a whole lot of trouble, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 29, 2012 at 8:02 am

"It was at night, so there would not be students behind the wall. "

It was the MP room. They often hold events there in the evening.
Two weeks ago it was the Addison children's dance. This Friday evening there is another event there. I don't know where they're going to hold it now. They should rent Lucie Stern and charge the cost back to the driver!
Don't try to find excuses. This was completely preventable.


Posted by anon again, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 29, 2012 at 9:15 am

If we're dealing in 'what ifs'. If there had been an event at the school at night, the parking lot would have been full, and the driver in question would not have been able to park where she did.


Posted by would have saved a whole lot of trouble, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 29, 2012 at 9:42 am

No, the lot wasn't full at the last event and probably won't be full this Friday. It's a neighborhood school and most people walk.

Actually, I just heard this Friday's event has been moved to the Ohlone MP room. So no-one's going to be walking. Yet more trouble and inconvenience this incident has caused!


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