The Delhi Police have started prosecuting guardians of underage drivers. Till February 28 this year, the police prosecuted guardians of 193 minors found driving against just three in 2014 — a 64-fold rise.
The law does not permit minors to be prosecuted so the police are left with no option but to fine and counsel their parents instead.
"It is not that suddenly children have started driving around the city. We did have this problem for a long time. But the situation has become grave as the number of accidents involving minor drivers is rising and there are increasing numbers of minor stunt bikers on the roads," said Anil Shukla, joint commissioner of police (traffic).
"Most parents or guardians do not mind paying Rs 500 to release the vehicle because they don't mind if their children start driving before they officially have a licence," he said.
To address the problem, the department has started a counseling session for such parents. A two-hour session is made mandatory before the impounded vehicle is released. Apart from this, sensitisation programmes are being launched at schools across the city.
Principals and teachers of each school in collaboration with the local traffic unit have been asked to monitor the area around their schools before and immediately after school hours to discourage children from driving to school and from school.
"The aim is to sensitise parents and schools of the dangers of letting children drive. There is a reason for a minimum age to procure a drivers' licence and unless adults help children fight peer pressure, this menace will not be tackled," added Shukla.
The Road Accident Analysis report of 2014 - the annual report released by Delhi Police - shows a steep increase in the number of minors who have lost their lives in road accidents.
Last year, 245 people below the age of 18 years were victims of road accidents. The figure stood at 156 in 2013. The fatalities include drivers, passengers and pedestrians.