Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicles by Children

May 2019

Vehicle Technology

Child sitting on the drivers seat
Kind am Steuer eines Fahrzeugs

Nine-year-old drives his parents’ car to the fair at night – Twelve-year-old drives his parents’ car 1,300 km through Australia – Seven-year-old boy takes his neighbor’s tractor and sets out on a grand tour: Headlines that we have read and at least suggest that fortunately nothing bad happened. Readers may dismiss such escapades with a smile. But not the parents of these children, who at such moments are not only extremely worried about the wellbeing of their children, but also about what could have happened if there had been an accident while they were driving on public roads and other road users had been affected.

Basically, in addition to the mandatory supervision of minors, drivers must secure motor vehicles against unauthorized use before leaving them. For this purpose, regulations require special safety devices in connection with an immobilizer. Locking the doors alone does not meet this requirement, but only the purpose of making it difficult for vehicle thieves.

Ultimately it is also a matter of not leaving the ignition keys lying around the house in plain sight, practically “inviting” the kids to take a joyride. Knowing the precocious impulses of some children to drive a car, it may also be appropriate to keep the keys safe from unauthorized access.

Meanwhile, a new area of conflict is emerging: The world market is booming with electrically driven personal transporters that are referred to collectively as “personal light electric vehicles” that can now be found in many different designs especially in many major cities around the world. Whether as a personal vehicle or one on loan, teenagers and adults are expanding their personal mobility in a “hip” way. Of course, this group of people is experiencing something that young children will want to try as soon as possible and then use regularly themselves. Regardless of the legal framework created by legislation for this purpose, the boundaries will have to be narrower than some children may like.

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