Soft law spurs minor drivers, makes prosecution tougher

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 21, 2015 14:02 IST

A friendly drive through the roads of Vasant Vihar turned into a nightmare for a 17-year-old school student and his 16-year-old friend on Friday as the car lost control and barged into a tree, killing the girl and injuring the boy.

The sight of young drivers hitting the roads in not new in the city, however, traffic officials said that the law does not allow them to prosecute underage drivers making the task of controlling this menace difficult.

In 2014, 102 minor drivers were involved in major and minor accidents across the city.

Looking at the number of incidents of underage driving, the traffic police have decided to tighten the noose on guardians or vehicle owners who allow these drivers to hit the road.

As compared to the prosecution last from January 1 to March 15, the prosecution rate has shot up 64 times. In 2014, where only three underage driving prosecutions were made, this year the figures stand at 315.

In the past two years, the average age of underage drivers prosecuted for unlawfully plying the roads of Delhi has gone down considerably.

“Most underage drivers who are prosecuted range between the age group of 12-17 years now. Children think it is cool to pick their parents’ car and zoom around but they often end up risking the lives of not only themselves but also the people around them,” said Anil Shukla, joint commissioner of police (traffic).

Traffic experts also noted that the reflex mechanism of children below the age of 18 years is not well developed. This increases the possibility of causing an accident by almost 60%.

“Today most families have more than one car and parents due to lack of time fail to supervise their children and allow them to drive their vehicles. What they fail to understand is that driving is less about skill and more about maturity to manoeuvre through other vehicles on the road,” said Mohammad Imran, founder member of the NGO Safe Road Foundation, which has been working closely with parents and schools to create awareness about the tribulations of allowing young children to drive.

Imran also pointed out that the lack of proper laws to prosecute underage drivers is also a key reason which has resulted in younger drivers hitting the roads fearlessly.

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