Underage Drivers: Should Parents Be Penalised For Being Irresponsible?

Umran Hussain

There has been an unfortunate rise in road accidents in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir which consumed more than twelve precious lives in a weeks time in the valley of Kashmir alone.

People from all corners are expressing their concern about the rising number of accidents, but only a few can be seen talking about the root cause of such accidents.

Just two days back tragic news about the death of three young boys (cousins to each other) sent shivers down the spine of every concerned parent. They probably lost control of the Scotty they were riding and crashed into a car coming from the opposite side.

News papers and News portals in Kashmir these days are overrun with the news about accidents and the reason that everyone talks about is reckless driving by the underaged drivers.

Why is it a matter of grave concern?

According to data from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, 10,622 persons under the age of 18 lost their lives to road crashes in India, accounting for 29 deaths on average every day. Among the 10,622 persons dead, 3,417 deaths were of those children/adolescents who were driving the vehicle.

Parents who have given a free hand to their kids and are handing over car and two Wheeler keys to them should be held accountable. This is what people especially netizens in the valley demand.

“We all in one voice should appeal the authorities to seize the vehicles of those underaged drivers and book their parents later. There needs to a strict law in place to curb this menace.” Said Mushtaq Ahmad, a senior citizen.

What the law says about underaged driving?

Though penalisation of vehicle owners in an accident case is neither alien nor new to the Indian Penal Code (IPC), its implementation is trend setting, as it raises hopes of a decline in the involvement and fatalities of minors in road accidents.

Section 5 read with Section 180 of the Motor Vehicles Act allows the police to penalise vehicle owners for allowing unauthorised persons to drive. “Vehicle owners shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine extending to one thousand rupees or with both,” says Section 180 of the Motor Vehicles Act.

Why is it dangerous to let your kids drive? 

According to psychiatrists, adolescent children, and boys more often, indulge in bike racing and rash driving to impress peers. “They feel a sense of freedom by violating the law. It is that feel that prompts an underage driver to not wear helmets and seat belts. Most of them don’t follow traffic rules, a self destructive factor which also poses danger to other road users,” writes Sudha R, noted psychiatrist from Bangalore.

Teenage driving is also a risk because minors cannot make judgements and are bad at decision making, explained another psychiatrist.

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