In misguided attempts to impress their friends, children as young as 14, whose legs are barely long enough to reach the car pedals, are being caught behind the wheel. Underage driving is not a new phenomenon on Delhi roads but what is worse is that the drivers are getting younger.
In 2012, the average age of the underage driver was 17. In 2013, the average age fell to 15-16. And till May 15 this year, the average age of the 70 underage drivers caught by the Delhi Traffic Police was just 14-15 years.
“Most underage drivers caught now are 14 to 15 years of age… children think it is ‘cool’ to take their parents’ car. They not only risk their lives but of the people around them,” said Anil Shukla, joint commissioner of police (traffic).
There are also more underage drivers on the road. In a 45-day period (April 1- May 15) this year, 46 underage drivers were caught — that means every day one case was reported. It’s a striking spike from 2013 when only 76 underage drivers were caught in the entire year.
Mohammad Imran, founder of NGO Safe Road Foundation that works with parents and schools to create awareness about the dangers of underage driving, says the lack of a legal system to prosecute such drivers — in most cases just counselling sessions are held — is why younger drivers are hitting the roads in more numbers.
And the parents are at fault too.
“Busy parents fail to supervise their kids and let them drive. What they fail to understand is that driving is less about skill and more about maturity to handle other vehicles on the road,” Imran said.