A bit brash for their age

Broken Rules

A bit brash  for their age

Yet another school-going boy, riding a bike, was knocked down recently and died on the spot. The boy had gone to fetch idlis for his family when the accident happened. This is no stray incident involving underage two-wheeler riders going under the wheel.

Despite increasing cases of underage driving in the City, the Bangalore Traffic Police doesn’t seem to be doing anything to regulate it, especially among school children. And looks like parents too, don’t think twice before spoiling their young children with bikes and high-end phones, unmindful of the chance of misuse.

Metrolife interacted with the traffic police, psychiatrists and young people to understand why underage driving persists despite so many deaths. 

The cops reason that they have been carrying out regular checks and conducting awareness drives in schools about the dangers of underage driving. B Dayananda, additional commissioner of police (traffic), points out that parents must stop giving bikes to children and encouraging them to ride before the permissable age.

“It’s like giving a gun to a child and asking him or her to learn how to use it. I would certainly blame the parents for handing over the keys of bikes and cars to young children even before they get a licence,” he says.  

Dayananda further states that parents of children, who are caught driving, will be fined Rs 1000 in court and could even face an imprisonment of three months under the court of law. “Underage driving falls under the category of a non-compoundable offence which means the matter will have to be settled by the court of law,” he adds.
  
Child psychiatrists feel that children should not be given a vehicle to drive at a young age, especially when it is against the law. Dr Sugami Ramesh reasons that young children lack a sense of judgement. “Underage riding or driving leaves a negative effect on children. For one, they tend to be over-confident in future and misuse the opportunity given to them in the absence of their parents. Children must be taught from a young age not to indulge in illegal activities.”

While some parents think it’s alright if their children are used to high-end gadgets and bikes at a young age, others don’t hand over either vehicles or cell phones to their children until they are old enough to distinguish good from bad. Sharing the parents’ perspective, Thangamani and her husband Vetri, state they have never permitted their teenage children to ride or drive at a young age. “Apart from a bicycle, we don’t allow our children to use vehicles. We don’t want them to do anything that goes against the law,” they say. 

Most children confess that they want to experiment with vehicles when they enter high school but think twice before going against their parents’ will. Seventeen-year-old Shrimathi, a class twelve student, says, “I ride a bicycle but have never ridden a bike even if I’ve been tempted to. It’s unsafe.” Prateeth, an student of engineering, confesses that he too wants to ride but has never taken a chance. 

“Since I don’t have a licence, I have never taken the risk of driving in the traffic. I take a bus or ask my parents to drop me.” Ashwaija, another student, says she rides the bike only in the neighbourhood. “I don’t venture onto the main roads because I am yet to get my licence.”

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