Let’s face it, our fascination with wheels begins at a very young age when we have dinky cars scattered all around us. Even before we develop the ability to call our father ‘Dad’, some of us manage to emanate the sound of a V12, as we bring that dinky car to life around the house. Gradually, we move on to bicycles and then we can’t wait until it grows an engine where the pedals are. Our wants grow wings when our parents present an irresistible offer of a motorbike in return of a higher octane score card. We manage an adulterated score, yet our parents shower us with 24 karat love and keep their promise. What they hardly realise is that the apple of their eye might know how to cook at an early age, but is he ready to become a full-time chef yet?
Worried by the threat that youngsters pose to themselves and other road users, the Tamil Nadu state school education department has issued a circular to schools, warning them that they would hold them responsible if a student is caught riding a two-wheeler of any type, from mopeds to heavy touring motorcycles. The department has also asked schools to install speed-breakers near their main gates.
“The circular states that schools will be held responsible if students ride motorbikes or scooters, but students’ parents buy motorbikes for their children, sometimes even if the school has a rule banning students from riding motorcycles,” NSN Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Chitlapakkam, correspondent Chitra Prasad said.
“I’m certainly not going to stand on the road and look for students who are breaking the rule,” Prasad said. “But parents of Class 11 students are required to sign an undertaking that they will not let their children come to school on motorbikes. Our school has for several years had a ban on students riding motorbikes.”
The principal of a CBSE school said enforcing the rule should be a joint effort by schools and the parents of students. “Schools cannot take responsibility for something that a student does outside the campus,” he said.
The Motor Vehicles Act permits 16-year-olds to ride non-gear bikes of less than 50cc. “There used to be mopeds that catered to this category. But there are few vehicles of that engine capacity currently in production,” a regional transport official said. The rules permit anyone aged 18 or more and with a valid licence to all types of motorcycles. Prasad said the logic of the ban is simple enough. “Riding a motorcycle is a skill that even a Class 4 student can master. But a minor is usually not mature enough to ride responsibly on the road,” she said.
Transport officials cannot book minors Under the Motor Vehicles Act, so in the event of an accident involving a minor, they take action against the registered owner of the vehicle. “It is the owner’s fault for letting a child ride a vehicle,” the transport official said. However, police can book children under the Juvenile Justice Act if they cause an accident, fatal or otherwise.
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