Underage driving is a common sight on roads in Kashmir Valley. Ironically, parents themselves are seen coaching children without realising that underage driving is an offence.

Sometimes scenes become scary on roads. One gets goosebumps when some persons, mostly teenagers, drive their bikes at break-neck speed and overtake through the left side of a vehicle. At times they move in a zigzag manner, veering alternately to right and left at very high speed. These raw hands endanger not only their own precious lives but also the lives of others. Strangely, no action is taken against them by authorities in the technological driven times. Some of them can be easily identified and action taken against them to be a deterrence to others. Rash-driving most often results in accidents. Sometimes the accidents prove fatal. Sometimes the minors seat two or three other children on their bikes and scooties. This is dangerous also. Underage driving is one of the major causes of traffic snarls and causes danger to other motorists and pedestrians on the roads.

As per traffic rules, the minimum age to apply for a valid driving licence to ride a motorcycle is 18. However, this rule is openly flouted. These underage drivers are mostly school-going children.

Juvenile driving has been happening for a while. It has been exacerbated by the limited availability of public transportation during the lockdown and safety concerns. The Motor Vehicle Amendment Act 2019 has adequate provisions for checking juvenile driving, but its implementation is poor.

According to the Section 199A Motor Vehicle Act 1988, when the offence under the Act is committed by a juvenile, the guardian of such juvenile or the owner of the motor vehicle shall be deemed to be guilty and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly. The father of the juvenile pleaded guilty.

As per psychiatrists, adolescent children, and boys more often, indulge in bike racing and rash driving to impress peers.  Teenage driving remains a risk because minors cannot make judgements and are bad at decision-making.

It is the first and foremost duty of parents not to provide their minor children any vehicle unless they attain majority and have license to drive the vehicle.  There is a need to take action against the minor motorists and at least safety guard must be ensured. Parents need to keep a watch on their child and ensure necessary instructions to keep them safe as well as pedestrians and other motorists on the road.

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