Delhi car crash: Violators have got younger over the years, say experts
In 2015, 225 fines were issued for underage driving. In 2014 and 2013, the figures stood at 186 and 178. Traffic police officials too said as the number of prosecutions was going up, the age of these drivers was going down.delhi Updated: Apr 20, 2017 23:49 IST
Driving without a licence has become a bane on Delhi roads. In five years, the city seems to have not learnt any safety lessons, despite the number of motorists prosecuted for driving without a license having doubled.
In 2015, 225 fines were issued for underage driving. In 2014 and 2013, the figures stood at 186 and 178. Traffic police officials too said as the number of prosecutions was going up, the age of these drivers was going down.
Thursday’s incident, where an 18-year-old student crushed a homeless man and injured three others sleeping on a footpath, has brought the spotlight back on the need to institutionalise responsible driving in the city. The accused, Samarth Chugh, did not have a driving license and was riding a friend’s father’s car.
“To think that this boy started driving just after he turned 18 would be trivializing the issue. Driving without a license and underage driving is not a new phenomenon, but Delhi Traffic Police data shows that with every passing year, the offenders keep getting younger,” said Saji Cherian of SaveLife Foundation, a social organisation committed to improving road safety across the country.
Records with Delhi traffic police suggest that in 2011, 16,072 people were challaned for driving without a license. In 2015, the figure jumped to around 17,370. In 2016, however, the number spiked to 31,024 – the highest in five years.
Police say on many occasions they found children as young as 10 years old behind the wheels of a car. Records with the traffic department show that in 2013, the average age of underage drivers was between 15 and 16 years, and in 2014, the average age of all violators was 14 years. In 2015, the average age of violators was only 11 years.
Experts say parents were as responsible for the changed trend as the Delhi traffic police and transport department. “We need to deal with this rise of the neo-rich in the city. There is a clear lack of training and awareness on the consequences of letting children drive and violation of any kind,” said KK Kapila from social organisation International Road Federation.
Sometimes it is a desperate attempt to impress their friends and at other times, it is a mindless show of power by their parents, added Cherian. “Instead of saying no, people take immense pride in letting their young children drive,” he added.
The experts said that the traffic police and transport department should also create more training centres and make it look cool in order to attract more people to get enrolled. Creating awareness was equally necessary.