High Court: Parents’ duty to not allow underage children to ride motorcycles

Underage driving and riding are issues in many parts of the country. In numerous cities, the sight of school children riding scooters and motorcycles to school has become commonplace. Underage driving can be extremely dangerous, often leading to accidents. Addressing this concerning trend, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court expressed its disappointment and emphasized the parental duty to prevent their underage children from operating motor vehicles.

High Court: Parents’ duty to not allow underage children to ride motorcycles
School Kid riding a scooter

The court made these remarks during the hearing of a miscellaneous appeal by United India Insurance Company. The company was contesting a compensation awarded to the family of a young individual who was killed in a 2018 road accident. According to reports, the 19-year-old student and his friend were traveling on a motorcycle on the Virudhunagar-Thiruthangal road. While attempting to overtake a lorry, the young man operating the motorcycle was struck by the lorry’s wheel, resulting in his fatality.

The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal in Virudhunagar deemed the lorry driver negligent and held him responsible for the accident, awarding a compensation of Rs 16.92 lakh to the family. The insurance company approached the court to challenge this compensation. After reviewing the evidence, the court observed that the motorcycle had skidded in front of the lorry while attempting to overtake, leading to the youth falling in front of the lorry’s tire. The insurance company emphasized that the motorcyclist was riding recklessly and negligently.

High Court: Parents’ duty to not allow underage children to ride motorcycles
Kid driving Hyundai Creta on main road

The insurance company asserted that solely blaming the lorry driver for the accident was unjust, as the motorcyclist’s rash riding also contributed. Justice N. Sathish Kumar stated that the lorry driver was also at fault for not applying brakes in time. The insurance company also pointed out that the rider did not possess a valid driving license at the time of the accident.

After considering all the points, the court revised the compensation amount to Rs 19.24 lakh and instructed the insurance company to pay Rs 9.62 lakh as compensation. Recently, the Kerala High Court sentenced an individual to simple imprisonment until the rising of the court and imposed a Rs 34,000 fine for permitting his minor brother to operate a two-wheeler. This practice has gained popularity among certain individuals, who allow their children to drive cars on public roads and even document and share videos of these incidents on social media platforms. In most cases, these violations go unnoticed by authorities. However, in cases where they are noticed, strict action is taken.

For parents who genuinely wish their child to practice driving or riding a motorcycle, it is recommended to do so on private property or a track. Allowing children to drive on public roads not only endangers their lives but also the lives of other road users. Law enforcement has the authority to seize the vehicle or even revoke its registration, in addition to imposing fines. Legal action can also be taken against adults or vehicle owners who permit such actions. Driving or riding is a responsible task, and the legal age to obtain a driving license in India is 18 years.