Police catch illegal drivers as young as 13 in crackdown

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POLICE have put the brakes on teenage motor menaces.

Officers handed out 37 driving convictions – including disqualification, suspended prison sentences and rehabilitation orders – to under 18-year-olds in Sunderland in 2011.

But the figure fell to just 20 in 2012.

According to statistics from a Freedom of Information request by the Echo police handed out one suspended sentence last year – although there was none in 2011 – with the majority of convictions being disqualification from driving.

A total of 24 drivers were banned from the roads in 2011 – which was halved to just 11 in 2012.

The figures show more young men than women were convicted of driving offences, the majority of which happened on motorcycles and unknown vehicles.

Most of the offences were committed by 17-year-olds: 17 in 2011, and 15 in 2012 – but drivers as young as 13 were dealt with by police.

Franki Hackett, campaigns officer at road safety charity Brake, said the figures show there was still a worrying trend in the number of young people risking their lives on the city’s roads.

“It’s really worrying that so many young people are taking deadly risks on roads,” she said.

“Young people aged 16 to 24 are more likely to die in a crash than from any other cause.

“Younger teenagers are even less able to cope with the risks of driving, which is why we urge young people of all ages to make sure they’re not driving illegally or dangerously.”

Brake say they are asking parents, and the government, to encourage teens to be responsible on the roads.

“We urge parents to speak to their teenagers about road safety and ensure they know what they’re doing,” added Mr Hackett. “And we’re calling on the government to make road safety education mandatory, and introduce a system of graduated licensing to allow young people to learn how to be safe on roads without being exposed to the worst risks.”

Chief Inspector Sarah Pitt, of Northumbria Police Operations Command, said: “It is encouraging to see the number of motoring offences committed by young people fall by almost half when compared to last year.

“We work closely with road safety organisations as well as schools and colleges to educate young and future motorists about the importance of taking road safety seriously and to respect other road users – whether as a driver, passenger, pedestrian, cyclist or motorbike rider, everyone has a responsibility for their own safety and the safety of others on the road.

“Northumbria Police regularly carries out operations targeting motorists driving without insurance, a valid MOT or driving licences, young people under 17 should be aware if they’re caught driving, they will face points on their driving licence before they have even passed their driving test.”