School principals across schools agree that under-age driving is a big problem among children in Delhi. They say that only a stricter law can help solve the problem, as despite repeated complaints from schools, parents do not want to listen.
“For us it is very difficult to say how many children come to school on two-wheelers. Even if they come they will park their vehicles away from the vicinity of the schools. In the past, we have confiscated keys and called parents to school but hardly do they take our advice. Law needs to change,” said Meenu Goswami, principal of Bal Bharti Public School, Pitampura.
Late on Sunday night, Goswami’s student, 17-year-old Atul Arora, was killed in an accident. He was riding a scooty without a helmet and a driving licence when a car approaching from the opposite side in West Delhi’s Paschim Vihar rammed his vehicle.
Goswami said: “The school administration and children were in a state of shock and grief.” “Such a good life was wasted. Parents should see safety of a child is not compromised in this manner,” she added.
The Indian School principal, Tania Joshi, acknowledges the magnitude of the problem. In her school it is the student council, which sees to it that students do not indulge in underage driving.iframe width="640" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/91jdqDUsB4s?ecver=1" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
“The officer-bearers of the council keep an eye on students and see they do not drive two-wheelers to the school. They also see students do not drive vehicles to tuition centres. If any student council member finds anyone driving, they inform the school about it,” said Joshi.
“If anyone from the police services addresses students there will be a greater impact. So it is always helpful that the police conduct seminar and orientation in schools,” said a teacher at Ramjas school.
While the Delhi Traffic Police officers said their hands were tied as the children cannot be fined.
“We have issued strict instructions to our personnel on the roads to prosecute the owners who have been handing over their vehicles to minors. Whenever we catch youngsters driving, we counsel them and call their parents to warn them,” said Garima Bhatnagar, joint CP (Traffic).
She adds that the school authorities should also organise programmes to sensitise children against the menace.
“Since we cannot enter schools and challan, we have been speaking to school administrations to discourage such youngsters. Even in our road safety campaigns targeting young drivers, our main focus is to discourage underage driving,” said Bhatnagar.