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Underage Driving Epidemic In The UK

By raccars Published

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Recent research by an insurance firm has shown that hundreds of underage drivers are being caught every year in the UK, and numbers are rising. Last year alone, 725 under 17s received a driving ban after being caught behind the wheel, before they're even old enough to hold a licence.

This has prompted calls for tougher penalties to prevent underage driving. The number of repeat offenders suggests that the current system of disqualification is not proving an effective deterrent to underage drivers, with some children caught behind the wheel 15 times.

In 2013, there were 692 driving disqualifications issued to under 17s, followed by 725 in 2014. So far in 2015, 284 children were caught driving by the end of May. Of those 1,701 disqualifications, seven of them were issued to 12 year olds. Fifty two of them went to 13 years olds, 179 to 14 year olds, 454 to 15 year olds and 1,009 of the underage drivers were 16.

The current legal system in the UK allows courts to impose driving bans on those who are legally too young to drive, but an insurance company points out that it is nonsensical for a driving ban to be served, when the children are already banned from driving by default because of their age. Bans issued to a 12 year old could have been served long before the offender is old enough to apply for their driving licence at 17. However, the endorsements will remain on record. The insurer is proposing a change in the law so that any driving bans imposed while the offender is under 17 are automatically served only after reaching the legal driving age.

Underage drivers are not offending simply by virtue of taking the wheel, but are also committing a number of traffic offences while doing so, including driving without insurance. Over nine hundred underage drivers have been charged with traffic offences repeatedly. Some of the 12 year olds prosecuted have been given multiple convictions and one 16 year old has come under prosecution for driving offences 15 times. Eighty seven underage drivers have been prosecuted at least five times and 15 have a least 10 driving convictions.

In 2011, an 11 year old from the Thames Valley area was convicted of drunk driving, while in 2008 a number of 12 year old drink drivers were caught in Manchester and Scotland.

Road safety charity, Brake, claims that untrained, unlicensed drivers are putting themselves and other road users at risk, and has suggested that peer pressure could push children into driving before they are legally old enough to do so.

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