ABU DHABI // A top policeman has hit out at the "intolerable" number of children who are driving cars illegally.
There were 341 cases of under age driving in Al Ain during the first half of this year, according to figures released by the Al Ain traffic police.
Officials attributed the high figures to parents who were not monitoring their children.
Col Hamad Al Baloushi, the head of traffic police for the external Abu Dhabi regions, stressed that the unavailability of an adult driver at home was not an excuse for parents to allow their children to drive under age. "This is unacceptable," he said. "Giving the keys to 15 or 16-year-olds and putting them in a position where they could hurt themselves and others is absolutely intolerable."
Drivers who fail to present a licence when requested by the police are subject to a Dh200 fine. However, Col Al Baloushi said that if the driver is below the legal driving age of 18, both the driver and his or her parents can be charged.
Should under age driving result in an accident, the individuals involved could remain in police custody for 48 hours.
Col Al Baloushi said most under age drivers were from Al Ain, where, according to 2009 figures from the Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi, about 30 per cent of the population was under 19.
Last month, under age driving ended tragically when a 16-year-old Emirati girl took her two younger sisters, aged 12 and 13, for a ride near the Al Wathba bridge. Officials said the car was speeding, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle and swerve into a metal barrier. The two young sisters died while the driver survived.
According to additional figures from the Al Ain traffic police, seven of 45 road fatalities in the past six months have involved children between the ages of two and 17. This was a 30 per cent decrease from last year.
Al Ain recorded 258 traffic accidents, of which 41 were caused by drivers swerving out of their lanes, 33 caused by tailgating and 27 by negligence.
The youngest victim of a road accident was a two-year-old who was run over by a car in Al Samra.
Officials said the Al Ain traffic department was also working with the municipality to install speed bumps in busy pedestrian areas.