Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Students riding motorcycles breaking law?

Students riding motorcycles breaking law?

Meera Srinivasan

Those in 16-18 age group can only ride vehicles with engine capacity of 50 cc Major two-wheeler manufacturers such as TVS Motors and Bajaj have terminated production of 50 cc mopeds.



A VIOLATION?: A school student driving a two-wheeler at Anna Nagar. — File photo

CHENNAI: Does your school-going child ride a motorcycle? Then he or she is probably breaking a law.

Even with a licence, motorists in the age group 16-18 violate the Motor Vehicles Act, unless they are riding a two-wheeler with an engine capacity of 50 cc or less.

According to Provision 1 in Section 4 of the Motor Vehicles Act, "No person under the age of 18 years shall drive a motor vehicle in any public place. Provided that a motorcycle with engine capacity not exceeding 50 cc may be driven in a public place by a person after attaining the age of 16 years."

In essence, the two-wheeler licence issued to those in the age group 16 to 18 years only authorises them to ride gearless vehicles with an engine capacity not exceeding 50 cc.

However, major two-wheeler manufacturers such as TVS Motors and Bajaj have terminated production of 50 cc mopeds.

Engine capacity

K. Ramakrishnan, General Manager, Marketing, TVS Motors, said a drastic reduction in commuter usage and increase in usage for carrying load, compelled the company to go in for vehicles with more engine power.

Hence, two-wheelers with an engine capacity of 60 or 70 cc displaced the sub-50 cc ones.

Dealers said most manufacturers were graduating from production of vehicles with two-stroke engines to those with four-stroke. This made them opt for a higher engine capacity. Consequently, motorists under 18 years of age end up using motorbikes that their licence prohibits them from using.

Secretary of the Automobile Association of South India (AASI) M.K.Subramanian said, "This gap needs to be addressed soon. The Act could be amended to permit students to ride vehicles with higher engine capacity. A 17-year-old can easily ride a bike with 70 cc engine capacity."

However, he cautioned parents and school authorities to ensure motorists in the age group wore helmets and refrained from speeding.

He also said some motorists showed a below-50 cc vehicle of a relative or friend while obtaining their licence and later used a vehicle of their choice. "This should also be checked."

When contacted, authorities said they would address the issue very soon.

State Transport Commissioner C.P. Singh said, "We will strictly go by law. We will soon stop issuing licences to those under 18 years unless applicants produced proof of owning a vehicle with an engine capacity of 50 cc or less that they may have purchased earlier." Mr. Singh suggested that school students use cycles. "It makes for good exercise."

According to Joint Commissioner (Traffic) Sunil Kumar, between January and March this year, 15 persons below 18 years were victims of fatal road accidents. Official sources said about 95 per cent of these involved two-wheelers.

Lack of awareness

However, schools authorities, parents and students seemed to be unaware of this clause in the licence.

Schools heads and parents said they insisted that students wore helmets and checked their licence but were not aware of the clause.

"I can ride a Scooty easily. I've been using one for the past couple of months to go for my tuition classes and school. I can't wait till I'm 18," said a Class XII student.

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