Underage riding: Parents need to drive home safety message


Comm Kumar (right) giving a helmet to a motorcyclist during a road safety programme in conjunction Ops selamat for hari raya. looking on is Johor police Traffic investigation and Enforcement department chief supt M. Kumarasan (left).

DESPITE continuous efforts and campaigns to address the problem of underage driving and motorcycle riding, there has yet to be a change in attitude among parents on the matter, says Johor’s top cop.

State police chief Comm M. Kumar said that what was even more concerning was parents encouraging their children to learn to drive cars or ride motorcycles even though they were not old enough to get a licence.

“Awareness is still very low, especially among parents. This is very worrying. Parents seem to be more worried about getting summonses,” he told StarMetro.

“It is common for parents to buy motorcycles for their underaged children and allow minors to operate vehicles without supervision.

“What is sadder are parents who are willing to fork out money to fulfil their children’s request to modify motorcycles to keep up with the current trend,” he added.

According to Section 39 (1) of the Road Transport Act (RTA) 1987, no person under 16 shall drive a motor vehicle on a road, while subsection (2) of the same section provides that no person under 17 years old shall drive a motor vehicle other than a motorcycle.

Comm Kumar said the Johor police issued over 147,000 summonses in the last two years to people operating vehicles without licence, including more than 1,000 cases involving minors.

“In 2022, we issued 73,467 summonses to people operating vehicles without owning a licence – 683 were issued to underage drivers and riders.

“The number went up to 74,070 last year, including 333 underage drivers and motorcyclists.

Johor police rounding up motorcyclists for various offences during an operation. — Photos courtesy of Johor policeJohor police rounding up motorcyclists for various offences during an operation. — Photos courtesy of Johor police

“In the first three months of this year, we issued 15,907 summonses for driving without a licence. Among them, 75 were underaged,” he said.

He said there were people caught red-handed for driving heavy vehicles too, such as lorries, buses and even tractors, without valid licences.

Comm Kumar said some parents were openly telling friends that their underaged children could drive cars or ride motorcycles.

“These days, it is no longer considered unusual to find younger children or teenagers going viral on social media for driving or riding vehicles,” he said.

“In fact, there are parents who upload such images and videos onto social media platforms showing their underaged children driving or riding vehicles.

“They seem to think that they are giving their children a chance to be independent at an early age, when in fact they are putting their lives in danger,” he stressed.

In February, a 25-year-old man was detained for letting a 13-year-old boy drive a car without a licence in Taman Daya, Johor Baru.

A photo of this, which went viral on social media, drew criticism from Internet users.

Seized motorcycles being loaded onto a police truck in Johor.Seized motorcycles being loaded onto a police truck in Johor.

In the photo, the man was sitting in the front passenger seat while the young teenager drove the car.

In June last year, a similar case in Klang made its rounds on social media too.

An 11-year-old boy and his 49-year-old father were arrested after videos of the boy driving the vehicle went viral.

Comm Kumar said there were even parents “liking” photos and videos posted on social media by their children carrying out dangerous stunts.

“When caught, the most common excuse from underage motorcyclists or drivers is that their parents gave them permission to use the vehicle.

“Some also use the excuse of wanting to reduce transportation costs, including monthly school bus fees.

“Another reason is of parents wanting their children to be independent, and to get to school or tuition classes on their own,” he said.

He added that to date, the youngest minor whom Johor police had found committing such an offence was an eight-year-old.

Comm Kumar said the police had carried out various programmes and were working with other agencies such as Education Ministry and the Road Transport Department to address the problem.

This included holding awareness exhibitions and campaigns such as Ops Didik, focusing on educating minors against being involved in such activities, he said.

“We are also using social media platforms to channel safety information to the public.

“This is on top of the frequent enforcement operations such as Ops Motosikal, Ops Bersepada and Ops Samseng Jalanan,” he said, adding that licensed motorists could be fined up to RM2,000 for allowing minors to operate their vehicles.

Comm Kumar urged parents to work with the police and other enforcement agencies to address the issue which was putting their children’s lives at risk.

“Everyone, including parents, must take the responsibility to address this issue.

“The question they may ask is, who are we to stop them from driving or riding vehicles if their parents allow them to do so?

“This gives the perception that we are the enemy that is stopping them from having freedom.

“We need parents to step up and educate their children.

“There is a time and place to show love to children.

“Do not go overboard in fulfilling their every wish.

“Don’t regret and blame others if something were to happen,” he said.

Comm Kumar said that between January 2022 and March this year, a total of 92 underage drivers and motorcyclists lost their lives in accidents.

Last month, Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Hasbi Habibollah said there was a high number of underaged drivers caught in the last four years.

“From 2021 to 2024, there were over 3,000 recorded cases of underage driving.

“A total of 578 summonses have been issued for underage driving from Jan 1 to Feb 29 this year alone,” he told the Dewan Rakyat on March 13.

In November last year, Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the ministry would conduct a review on fines against underage drivers as stipulated under the Road Transport Act 1987.

Under Section 26(2) of the Road Transport Act 1987, underaged drivers can face fines of up to RM2,000 or imprisonment of up to six months, or both if convicted.

This came after an unlicensed 16-year-old driver, involved in a fatal crash, took the lives of a motorcyclist and his pillion rider on Penang Bridge on Nov 12, 2023.

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police , summonses , awareness , campaigns , parents , licenses

   

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