Accident-prone: Underage drivers make commuting a hazard in Rawalpindi

Published: July 21, 2014
Some try to justify the practice by calling it a ‘necessity’.

Some try to justify the practice by calling it a ‘necessity’.

RAWALPINDI: When a water tanker clumsily made its way through the traffic and caused a blockage on Jabbar Colony Road on a Thursday morning, motorists sounded their horns to express their annoyance. But they weren’t prepared for what happened next. The tanker picked up speed, went out of control and hit a utility pole. Had commuters in the morning rush hour known the driver was underage, they would not have been so surprised.

Unfortunately, the number of underage drivers is increasing in the garrison city and accidents are becoming more frequent.

“Underage drivers are a common sight in the city. I saw a boy, hardly 13, driving a car with his mother at his side. You even see them driving water tankers in some areas,” said Sibte Hasan, a bakery employee.

“Many gruesome accidents on our roads can mostly be attributed to underage drivers. Just a week ago, a boy driving a water tanker drove down the wrong side of the street and ran over a man. Have underage drivers of water tankers ever been stopped by the police? I don’t think so, that’s why they are a constant menace,” said Nadeem Hussain, a resident of Nadeem Town, where accidents involving underage drivers are frequent.

“It is all the more agonising for their families considering the fact that the victims leave home with dreams and plans for the day, but end up dying in road accidents because of underage drivers,” said Gohar Zaidi, a trader in Jabbar Colony.

I started driving when I was nine, said Mohammed Ali, 13, who lives in Jabba with his parents. My father taught me as he was getting old. I have no licence but I drive because I have to, he added. “My parents don’t really mind, because my earnings help feed the family.”

Hasan Mujtaba, 12, said he started driving a water tanker at 10 after learning how to drive by observing others. “I have been involved in two accidents that left three people wounded and one permanently disabled, but my parents reached a compromise with the family with the police’s cooperation.”

Most underage drivers you are talking belong to rich families, said Mrs Qizalbash, a widow in Qadir Colony and mother to a 14-year-old tanker driver. “Nearly all teenagers in posh areas drive flashy cars. Any teen involved in an accident abandons the car and buys another. If the law is to be strictly observed it should start from the rich as most teenaged drivers belong to that class Why target poor people who rely on their sons who drive water tankers?” she questioned.

You will continue to chance upon underage drivers, because many people do not respect the law, said Mehdi, a 31-year-old water tanker driver. You will see boys driving water tankers because their parents are ignorant of the consequences. That is why there are more serious accidents in Nadeem Town, where many of these underage drivers are to be found.”

The police are also to blame because they issue the boys driver’s licences despite knowing that they are underage. If you have the money, you can get any of the traffic police officers to do it for you, stated Mehdi. “In this situation, why wouldn’t people continue to be run over by teenaged drivers?”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2014.


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Reader Comments (16)

  • Abdul Hayee Shah
    Jul 21, 2014 - 10:50PM

    Dear, you have missed our colony i.e. Habib Colony. It’s the most accident prone as a water tanker occupies the whole space of the road and doesn’t allow any thing to cross over — be it a vehicle or a pedestrian..


  • Salman
    Jul 22, 2014 - 12:47AM

    Reckless driving by underage drivers is very common in Rawalpindi. Why the adolescents are allowed to drive cars by themselves? Who should be held responsible.


  • Hira
    Jul 22, 2014 - 1:23AM

    Youth less than 18 years of age are not allowed to drive. Underage driving is a serious issue. Heavy penalties should be fixed for violators. It’s the parents who are responsible because they allow their children to use their cars.


  • Aniika Hussain
    Jul 22, 2014 - 1:29AM

    The margin for error is so small on the city roads that parents have to put rules in place to protect their underage sons and others.


  • Abbas Sheikh
    Jul 24, 2014 - 12:13AM

    It might be excitement for underage drivers to race on busy city roads, but thanks to the blind eyes of the traffic police and parents, everyone on the road, including the drivers, have to pay the price often in terms of human life.


  • Shoaub
    Jul 24, 2014 - 12:40AM

    Most of the wardens prefer issuing warnings to underage drivers. Under the rule book, a fine has been fixed and penalty ticket should be issued for violation of the age limit.Recommend

  • Ahmad Niaz
    Jul 24, 2014 - 1:06AM

    The underage drivers involved in road accidents should be taught by their parents that it takes 8,460 bolts to assemble an automobile, and one nut to scatter it all over the road.Recommend

  • Shafqat Abbas
    Jul 24, 2014 - 1:25AM

    Young drivers in luxury cars blatantly disregard speed limits and manage to go unchecked. Despite the City Traffic Police awareness campaign against underage driving, the city residents continue to suffer.


  • Mateen Shah
    Jul 26, 2014 - 9:39AM

    The underage driving permission by parents may end at the cemetery. God forbid. Even during Ramazan they are seen on every road of the city.


  • Nabeel
    Jul 26, 2014 - 9:51AM

    Little children, headache; big children (underage drivers), heartache.Recommend

  • Imran
    Jul 27, 2014 - 7:34AM

    These days everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car, as distances have increased, so why raise any objection to underage driving?


  • Zubair
    Jul 28, 2014 - 12:42PM

    Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?


  • Ejaz
    Jul 28, 2014 - 12:52PM

    Beware! When I’m driving, you the pedestrians, will hate me and when I’m a pedestrian, I will hate you, the drivers.


  • Ahmad Mirza
    Jul 30, 2014 - 3:33PM

    Minors were seen on the city roads even on Eid day. A drive must be launched to discourage minors from driving. We have to be strict to discourage them from driving their parents’ car or bike. Even the parents need to realize that they are wrong in giving keys to their minor kids.


  • Shazia
    Aug 1, 2014 - 9:39AM

    Youngsters zipping around on bikes are a common sight in Rawalpindi. In a bid to curb underage driving in the city, police should start conducting counseling sessions in schools.


  • Arif
    Aug 3, 2014 - 3:14PM

    I was in my car, and I was driving along, and my boss rang up, and he said ‘You’ve been promoted.’ And I swerved. And then he rang up a second time and said ‘You’ve been promoted again.’ And I swerved again. He rang up a third time and said ‘You’re managing director.’ And I went into a tree. And a policeman came up and said ‘What happened to you?’ And I said ‘I have been careered off the road by a teenage driver.’


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