Police on a mission to educate schoolchildren against underage driving

As the number of students using two-wheelers has gone up in UT, police organize awareness programs on the need to follow traffic rules

As the number of students using two-wheelers has gone up in UT, police organize awareness programs on the need to follow traffic rules

With the use of two-wheelers by those below 18 years becoming highly rampant in Puducherry, the traffic police have launched an awareness program targeting students at schools in the town and suburbs to educate them on the dangers of riding vehicles without a license.

The number of under-aged students using two-wheelers has gone up in recent years posing a threat to their own safety and the safety of other road users as well. As per information gathered from schools, several students have met with accidents while riding two-wheelers in recent times, the police said.

Principal of Petit Seminaire Higher Secondary School R. Pascal Raj said recently one of the students studying in Class XI sustained injuries while riding a bike. It was not an isolated incident. “We have prohibited our students from coming to school by two-wheelers. We are not allowing them to park the bike inside our premises and also have been deploying teachers to check whether students are using two-wheelers. Despite our efforts, some students come in two-wheelers, park the vehicles in nearby areas and then walk down to the school. It is the responsibility of the parents to ensure that their wards do not venture out in bikes,” he said.

Co-founder of Pondy Citizen’s Action Network (PondyCan) Sunaina Mandeen said riding without a license is dangerous for the child as well as for others too. “All must take the blame, as all of us are responsible for leading to a situation where a child without a license could ride a bike on a public road. First, the parents should be blamed for allowing their ward to ride a bike without a proper license. Police should strictly enforce the law. There is no excuse. Everyone is responsible and must take responsibility to avoid such a situation, she said.

Strict enforcement has its own shortcomings when it comes to catching a school student riding a motorbike, said a traffic police personnel, adding “we should be very careful in enforcing the law while catching a young child riding a two-wheeler. First thing, we should avoid a situation where the student panics and ends up in a mishap,” he said.

“It has been happening for a long time. The police should have stepped in years ago when the trend started. Once you allow a child to go to school in uniform without getting caught, it becomes a norm. Much of the responsibility lies with the parents,” said an official in the Education Department.

The new Director General of Police Manoj Kumar Lal has made it clear that enforcing rules and streamlining traffic would be one of his priorities. In a bid to create awareness among students, the police have started an educational program starting Tuesday. Superintendent of Police (Traffic), C. Maran, on Thursday addressed the students of Petit Seminaire during the school’s morning assembly.

Senior Superintendent of Police Narra Chaitanya told The Hindu that the police have charted a program to create awareness among the students on the need to follow traffic rules. “We are looking at bringing about a behavioral change among the students. But at the same time, we will enforce the law very strictly, even by penalizing the parents. We have decided to deploy our men near vantage points during school hours to enforce the law. The schools have been instructed to spread the message about the risks involved in driving vehicles without a license. Cooperation of everyone is a must in enforcing the rule as such violations involve the safety of young children and also that of others, he said.

mr. Chaitanya said the Motor Vehicles Act, 1989, is very clear on the punishment that could be meted out to the owner of the vehicle. In the case of children being offenders, the parents would be liable for punishment, he said. Section 4 of the Act legally bars any person under the age of 18 from driving a motor vehicle in a public place, the SSP said.

Quoting section 180 of the Act, he said, allowing unauthorized persons to drive the vehicle was punishable under the law. “Whenever, 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 4 to drive the vehicle shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months or with fine (5,000) or with both,” he added.

The SSP said after a few days of issuing advisory and creating awareness among the students / public, the police would start imposing fines and conduct other proceedings as per law. He also advised people to inculcate the habit of wearing a helmet. Studies have shown that most of the fatalities involving two-wheelers were not because of wearing helmets.

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