Over 1,000 underage drivers ‘banned’ from roads last year

Over 1,000 underage drivers ‘banned’ from roads last year
“Truly shocking” figures show over 1,000 children aged 16 and under received driving bans over the course of 2017.

A Freedom of Information request to the DVLA revealed an increasing number of youngsters are taking to the roads illegally and putting other drivers at risk.

The data shows that 33 of the bans were given to children under the age of 13, with others as young as 12 also caught driving over the course of the year.

READ MORE: Young drivers’ car insurance is ‘10% of yearly salary’

The RAC has warned over the abundant dangers this poses to other motorists, as well as the financial implications of being hit by an uninsured driver.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “These figures are truly shocking as every underage driver presents a frightening danger to other road users as they could so easily end up taking someone else’s life as well as their own.

“Every child that gets behind the wheel is also driving without insurance which is a cost that is borne by every law-abiding motorist who pays car insurance.

“The Motor Insurers’ Bureau, which acts as the insurer of last resort, pays out around 25,000 claims on uninsured and untraced, or ‘hit and run’, drivers every year, with 120 of these involving accidents where someone lost their life.”

The figures show a sharp increase in underage drivers, rising from 696 in 2014, to 1,024 in 2017.

Mr Williams warned the number is likely to be even higher than the data suggests.

He said: “Sadly, this is almost certainly just the tip of the iceberg because they have to be caught breaking the law in this way and, with a 27% reduction in the number of roads policing officers since 2010, the chances of getting caught are far lower.

“This means many underage drivers are inevitably getting away scot free.”

Courts currently impose bans on underage drivers who don’t have a licence – but as the restrictions start immediately, this means they can often begin driving again once they turn 17.

Mr Williams says more needs to be done to stop children getting behind the wheel.

READ MORE: Young drivers warned over fake insurance policies

He said: “It also seems very wrong that children caught committing this offence can serve their bans while they are legally not allowed to drive, leaving them free to start learning to drive once they turn 17.

“In this day and age we really shouldn’t be having children driving before they’re allowed to legally with their provisional driving licence at 17. More needs to be done to stop this happening, but we appreciate it’s a very difficult problem to tackle, especially when legitimate young drivers are renting out vehicles to groups of children so they can have a go at the wheel.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice has since said it will look into reforming the law and penalties for offenders as soon as possible.

They said: “We will bring forward proposals for changes in the law as soon as parliamentary time allows.

“These proposals will take account of, and incorporate, all of government's proposals for safer roads, including the Department of Transport's review of cycle safety.”

Copyright Press Association 2018. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.