Four-car accident leads to more awareness of ‘year rule’

February 22, 2010 — by Girish Swaminath

On Jan. 26, in extremely rainy weather, four cars driven by four upperclassmen returning from lunch collided on Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road. None of the students was injured, but the accident called attention to the problem of students driving without “having their year,” thereby breaking a state law known as the “year rule.”

State laws dictate that a driver may not transport other people with the exception of siblings or adults 25 years or older within his or her first year of having a license. In addition, these young drivers cannot drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

The accident showed how widely young drivers ignore this law. Out of 100 seniors polled by The Falcon, 71 said they have driven others at least once without “their year,” while only 29 have never transported anybody within their first year of having their license. Most said the year rule is totally impractical.

“Almost everybody breaks the year rule,” said senior Tommy Mednick. “It’s really not an effective or realistic rule, since driving other people around does not endanger other people’s lives.”

Other students, however, said they follow the law.

“The risks of taking [other people] off-campus and potentially getting into an accident are greater than the benefits of simply driving others,” said junior Harshil Sahai. “It’s simply not worth it.”

Administrators gave some of the students involved Saturday school. Assistant principal Joe Bosco said the accident was a reminder of the importance of following this law.

“I think [the year rule] helps students concentrate on their driving and prevents them from being distracted by other people in the car,” said Bosco. “Driving is a privilege and a huge responsibility and, hopefully, others will learn from [the accident] and drive slower.”

Deputy Dan Cutforth, a sheriff’s deputy who dealt with the accident, said, “[Legislators] made the law because they want to make the roads a lot safer and to encourage students to remain more focused while driving. In addition, laws like [the year rule] keep everybody else on the road safe.”

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