Around 7.30am, the lanes of Old Delhi reverberate with the sound of speeding motorcycles and scooters. The riders are mostly schoolchildren below 18 years — a common sight here.
Many students in schools across Delhi ditch school buses and cabs to ride two-wheelers and cars. The lack of checks by schools encourages children to hit the road young.
At a school in Daryaganj, the problem of underage driving was brought to the school’s notice by local residents.
“In the morning and in the afternoon, young boys create ruckus on the road. Riding without helmets, tripling, and speeding were common in the lanes here. It had become so unsafe for people to walk that we had to meet the school authorities,” said Mahinder Kumar from the Daryaganj Market Association.
Recognising the problem Delhi Traffic Police has been conducting education programmes with school administration and students.
“Many schools do not want to take responsibility for what happens beyond their walls. Students come to school on scooters and motorcycles and sometimes even drive their parents’ cars but there is no initiative to discourage them and their parents. We can only create awareness. All stakeholders need to join hands to curb this practice,” said a senior traffic official.
Leave alone checking the practice, many schools have created parking spaces for students. In schools that do not allow parking inside the school, students park their vehicles around the gate where authorities do not check.
The department has been conducting workshops with over 50 schools, where a team of students, headed by teachers, checks students driving to schools.
Rohan (name changed) is a student of Class 9 in a private school. He has been asking his mother to buy him a scooter for months. Unable to convince his father, he tells his mother that he would be able to save on the school cab’s expense.
“He has told his mother he will take his brother along and save money. Since many of his school mates drive two-wheelers, he wants it,” said his father.
He refused to buy him the scooter as his son is still not 18 but most parents agree to their children’s demands.
“I have been riding the bike since I was in Class 9. After lot of pleading, my father had bought me this. I have no licence,” said Chetan Singh, who is in class 12 now. He studies at a government school in Saket.
Parents of other students complain that they have seen underage drivers zooming to schools but they do not know how to stop them.
“Every time I go to drop my child to the school, there are more than 40 students who ride their own bikes. Schools just check whether the child uses the school transport and nothing else,” said a parent whose child studies at Ramjas School, Anand Parbat.
School authorities say that they cannot do much about it as parents and students don’t listen.
“If we come to know about anything we ask the students not to ride two-wheelers. But there are some who do not listen. We don’t even give them parking. The traffic police are the one who can do a lot to check these underage drivers,” said Devesh Mehta, manager of Ramjas School.