More and more kids not even old enough to have a driver’s license are being ticketed for speeding in Ohio. Troopers have issued 202 citations already this year to drivers younger than 16, compared with 112 in 2006, Sgt. Carlos Smith, a State Highway Patrol spokesman, said Friday.
If so many are being caught, there probably are many more who aren’t, he said. "There are probably a lot of kids who make it from point A to point B safely and never get a ticket," Smith said.
Often, those who do get caught are involved in an accident or are driving so erratically they get noticed. There have been six fatal crashes in Ohio this year involving drivers 15 years old or younger.
In September, troopers pursued a 12-year-old driving his parents’ van nearly 100 mph for more than 17 miles through three counties along I-71 in northeastern Ohio. "We had gotten calls that a kid was driving, and he looked really young," Smith said. "One woman who called 911 said he looked like he couldn’t be more than 12 or 13 years old."
Video from the in-cruiser camera of a trooper who caught up with the youth showed the van weaving across three lanes until it finally hit stop sticks and crashed into a concrete barrier and guardrail. The boy, from East Cleveland, was not hurt. He told troopers he had been in a fight at school and didn’t want to go back.
Another trooper cam showed an 8-year-old who seemed surprised when he was taken into custody. "I didn’t know you all arrested kids," he’s shown telling a trooper, Smith said. The boy had driven his grandfather’s sport utility vehicle about 15 miles on the Ohio Turnpike and had stopped only because he couldn’t pay the toll at a toll booth, Smith said. He told a trooper he had taken the vehicle "just to practice how to drive."
Video games might have something to do with encouraging kids to drive, Smith said. "Some of them come with a steering wheel and brake and gas pedals," Smith said. "They’ve given more kids confidence in their driving ability, and they want to try it out in a real vehicle. What they don’t realize is that a real vehicle becomes a weapon, sometimes a 3,000-pound weapon."
He urged parents to lock their cars to keep kids from being tempted. "This is a big issue, and one that can largely be controlled by adults," Smith said. "Parents just need to know what their kids are doing. Don’t let them play in or around the car. If a vehicle is left at home, put the keys away where kids can’t reach them."
Sgt. Craig Cfetan of the patrol’s Lancaster post said kids sometimes don’t realize the danger of their actions. He once stopped a car going the wrong direction on a one-way street at 2 a.m. and found a 15-year-old behind the wheel. "I was shocked," Cvetan said. Then he saw a 7-year-old and a 9-year-old in the backseat.
The driver had been babysitting, he told Cvetan, and got bored, so he had a few drinks from his parents’ liquor cabinet and took off. "It’s not like these kids have jobs or anyplace to be or anywhere to go," Cvetan said. "They just want to see if they can drive. It’s a very scary thing."
Via: Local News