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Brakes on a runaway menace

A high-speed vehicle in the hands of a child is not just fatal to his life but also to that of hapless bystanders. It is upto the parents to demonstrate to their children that the law must be respected.

india Updated: Jun 18, 2008 20:17 IST

Every time you drink too much and put your foot on the accelerator, death gets into the passenger seat with you, goes a saying. It is advice that most adults in India disregard when it comes to allowing their children access to both drink and cars. Three sets of parents found this out to their bitter cost when their sons lost their lives in a drunken driving accident over the weekend in Gurgaon. Women and child development minister Renuka Chowdhury is spot on when she says the onus for under-age children driving rests on the parents. Guardians are primarily responsible for their wards and as such must be held accountable to the law. This will encourage parents to make clear to their children where to draw the line.

A high-speed vehicle in the hands of a child is not just fatal to his life but also to that of hapless bystanders. It is upto the parents to demonstrate to their children that the law must be respected and that rules cannot be bent by browbeating the police as is so often the case in India. As Ms Chowdhury advocates rightly, the owner of a vehicle found in the custody of a minor has to be penalised. But, as we know, the changes in the law will take their time to come.

Meanwhile, it is vital that schools shed their attitude of denial and address the issues of drinking and under-age driving upfront. It is not enough to inculcate moral values like respect and honesty bypassing the reality of life as it is in nuclear families with disposable incomes. While bringing parents under the purview of the law, establishments like liquor vends and bars that sell to minors must also be cracked down on. The unfortunate boys who died were returning from a bar in an upmarket locality in a borrowed car. Everyone involved in the incident is culpable. None of these measures will eliminate the problem in its entirety. But it will certainly scatter pebbles in the path of minors and their parents. And save several lives.