Millennium Post

Juvenile riders

Who do you blame for a road accident due to rash driving by a minor? Naturally, the parents. A large number of parents are oblivious of the fact that their school-going child driving a vehicle may be the cause of a roadside mayhem waiting to happen.

While it’s true that childhood obesity rates are soaring and a generation is coming of age with little understanding of the joy and freedom of unsupervised play, it’s equally valid to say that these days children demand a lot and expect positive response from their guardians every time that they make one.

Generally, if a student is studying in class XII, s/he will be in his/her either late 16 or early 17. However, in order to get a driving licence (learner’s or permanent) from the transport department, one must be at least an 18-year-old.

Usually, while passing by a school you would notice a large number of vehicles including motorbikes, two-wheelers and cars parked outside the school campus. The moment the school bells rings signaling classes getting over, the underage owners of these vehicles rush out excitedly. From then onwards, it’s a tireless demonstration of how to violate traffic rules.

Two to three persons often pile on two-wheelers. They don’t wear helmets and obviously don’t carry a driving licence because they have not turned eighteen yet. Frequently, they perform stunts on their bikes that at times lead to injuries. It’s not only the boys who are to be blamed as girls too match their transgressions at every step. Scooties ferrying about three girls, all without helmet, is a common sight. The status of vehicles varies according to the poshness (or the lack of it) of the schools.

Parents often refuse to take the blame for allowing their under-18 children to use the vehicles to commute. Rather, they blame the concerned school for not providing safe parking facilities!
Charu Goyal, an entrepreneur and a mother of a 17-year-old school-going son, Nikhil, said, ‘His school bus does not reach our house and I don’t want him to take public transport as it is very dangerous. On the other hand, I am aware of my son’s perfect driving skills, so I allow him take the car to his school.  Furthermore, I’m not afraid of the police ticketing my son because he knows how to handle them.’

Nikhil is a XII standard student at a well-known public school in Faridabad. It is among the most expensive schools in NCR. When Millennium Post visited the school, the nearby areas looked like showrooms for luxury cars, driven there to by the students, obviously under 18, studying at the school.

Sangeeta, a 40-year-old beautician, said she allowed her 13-year-old daughter, Gunjan, to drive a scooty to her school in south Delhi, because she was horrified with sexual harassment cases that were taking place in public vans and buses.

Few believe that there was anything wrong in allowing students take their own vehicle to school. ‘Students don’t have the same rights as adults in many situations and this is one of them,’ said Amit Gupta, a schoolteacher.

In some of the schools in Delhi-NCR, the school authorities have issued guidelines to students to not bring vehicles to the school. Also, they don’t allow any vehicle to be parked at/near the school premises. The students of these schools have made alternate arrangement to park their vehicles safely, choosing either the nearest metro station or the market area and paying token money to the shopkeeper, in front of whose shop they leave their bikes or cars.

In case these children are flagged down by a traffic cop, they either try to speed away or negotiate a fee to manage the situation. However, when these unruly adolescents form groups and avail public transport like a DTC bus, the matter worsens. They neither buy tickets, nor do they offer seats to women or elderly commuters.

 Often students, especially those studying in government schools, resort to abusive language despite the presence of female and older commuters in the bus. Though not poor, some indulge in become pickpocketing. These days, the school uniform has become the preferred dress code for pickpockets as the general public doesn’t suspect them. These ‘students’ are also the ones indulging most in cases of eve teasing.
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