Twelve-year-olds being banned from driving
Children as young as 12 are being disqualified from driving, five years before they are even entitled to get a provisional driving licence, according to new research.
And the number of young people under 17 disqualified from driving is increasing year-on-year, prompting the car insurance industry to demand bans to start when the offender turns 17 and not before.
Despite being too young to drive, the courts can award children a formal driving ban to be served before their 17th birthday.
The research across Northern Ireland and Britain, reveals 725 children under the age of 17 were disqualified from driving last year, an increase of five per cent on 2013 when 692 drivers under 17 were banned from the roads.
This year already, 284 children too young to hold a provisional driving licence have been disqualified by the courts across the UK - a five per cent increase on the same period in 2013, say the figures obtained by Churchill Car Insurance in a freedom of information request.
The data found that 923 children under the age of 17 have been prosecuted for multiple driving offences and a 16-year-old has already been prosecuted 15 times for driving offences.
The figures have come with a call for an urgent review of deterrents for under aged driving by a car insurance firm which says children convicted of driving cars on the road may still be able to secure a driving licence when they turn 17, much like any other young driver.
Bans for underage drivers often start from the date of conviction and could therefore have expired by the time the offender reaches 17, though endorsements will still be listed on any licence issued, says Churchill.
Steve Barrett, head of Car Insurance at Churchill Insurance, said: "It is shocking to see hundreds of children legally disqualified from driving at an age when they should never even be behind the wheel. We need harder hitting education schemes highlighting the risks and dangers of driving underage and uninsured. It doesn't make sense that bans are served when children are not legally able to drive. The number of repeat offenders is proof in itself of how ineffective a deterrent this is. Bans should commence from the date an offender becomes 17."