Underage Driving And Riding Is Perilous.
Pune Seems To Be Running A Blind Eye To This Dangerous Menace, While Cities Like Hyderabad Have Come Down Heavily On Such Cases After A Spate Of Near Fatal Accidents Involving Children.
Pune’s over-indulgent parents seem to have found a new way of pampering their teenage children, by allowing them to drive and ride on the city’s roads. Gleefully permitting their children to drive cars and ride powerful motorbikes is nothing short of throwing caution to the wind and brazenly at that!
Just the other day, I had visited the Tehsildar’s office in the city for a pending task. Soon after that I was made to wait for a while, since the driver hadn’t turned up, despite telling me that he would in a few mins. When he did finally, he was accompanied by two agitated young boys on a motorbike, who were presumably not more 14-15 years old.
They came up to me complaining that the car hit them and they need compensation for the broken number plate and a dent on the bike. Just then, the boy’s father called up on his son’s mobile asking him to get back, since he needed the bike.
The boy repeatedly kept telling him that he would be back in a few minutes and sounded positively worried. Meanwhile, I suggested that we go to the police station and take it from there. I also asked him to show me his driving license and that is all that was needed to get them to flee in a flash.
On hindsight, I should have taken down their number and reported this to the police and done my duty as a good citizen.
In another instance, I was taken aback when a mother of a 14 year old girl was given the car keys to drive to pick up a cake down the road. She quite nonchalantly said “there is no police on that road and it’s fine for her to drive. And moreover, how will she go in the hot sun!’’
The girl did come back safe with the car and the cake, but is this what educated parents are instilling today in their growing children? Should they be encouraging their under-aged children to break rules?
Does love for your children manifest by allowing them to play with fire? And that too, at the cost of safety of the child and others on the road ?
My friends keep mentioning incidents of under-age children driving at high speeds within their housing societies. They are willfully supported by their parents, so much so, that if society members object, they take their child’s side.
Children riding scooters and bikes in school uniforms is now a common sight, despite rules clearly allowing only riding of a non-geared 50cc vehicle and with a valid license, issued for an applicant who has attained a minimum age of 16.
While Pune seems to be either in denial or indifferent to this growing malaise, Hyderabad seems to have found a method to rein in these truant teenagers and their over zealous parents.
In a stern crackdown on driving by under-aged children, a 14 year old boy was sentenced with a days imprisonment (in a juvenile remand home) and 10 parents were put behind bars for giving permission to their children to use a two-wheeler.
Vehicles were seized and children and parents were mandatorily made to attend a counseling session at the Traffic Training Institute.
A fine of Rs.500 was also slapped on the parents and they were tried under Section 180 of the Motor Vehicle Act.
This section states ‘Allowing unauthorised persons to drive vehicles.—Whoever, being the owner or person in charge of a motor vehicle, causes or permits, any other person who does not satisfy the provisions of section 3 or section 4 to drive the vehicle shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.’’
In Hyderabad, as per newspaper reports, earlier in February, 45 parents were jailed and over 1,000 cases of driving by under-aged children were registered.
This drive is a special campaign taken up by the Hyderabad Police, as it registered over 100 accidents in 2017 involving minors, with many of them being near-fatal to fatal.
Closer home, the Kolhapur Police has initiated a similar drive last month. It is about time that the Pune Police takes cognisance of this and initiates suitable action to prevent accidents on our roads involving underage drivers.
#All views expressed in this column are those of the authors and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.
That's Vinita Deshmukh, Senior journalist and RTI activist who believes in journalism that reflects the views and needs of the common man.
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