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Motorway madness of HGV-driving kids

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The young boy who drove an HGV lorry

The young boy who drove an HGV lorry

The young boy who drove an HGV lorry

First Minister Arlene Foster has set the right tone by describing children apparently driving HGV lorries on or approaching the M1 Motorway as reckess and crazy. Those are strong words, but entirely justified if the content of two videos posted online is true. In one case it was a young boy, in the other a young girl.

It is difficult to know what would possess any adult to let such young children - unlicensed, uninsured and disqualified from driving because of their age - take the wheel of a large vehicle. It would be unacceptable for them to drive an ordinary family car, but the consequences of a HGV lorry going out of control on busy main roads with other traffic travelling at high speed does not bear thinking about.

Such a vehicle would cause absolute mayhem if involved in an accident in the hands of a child barely able to reach the brakes.

Driving is seen as a rite of passage among young people, especially in rural areas. Having their own transport means independence and a certain status among their peers.

It is common for those brought up on farms to learn how to drive anything from quads to tractors from a young age.

It is often said that Northern Ireland produces so many good rally drivers because they have been driving from a young age. They can do that on private land, but of course there are still dangers involved. However, they should never venture onto the road until they take driving lessons and obtain their licence.

None of this should be interpreted as excusing, or even understanding, why anyone would let a child drive a HGV. The mindset of at least some of those in one of the videos can be guaged from the fact that those caught on camera are not wearing seatbelts. That merely compounds what is a reckless lack of judgment on the part of the adults involved.

It is interesting to note that a man quizzed about the first such video to appear online was questioned, among other things, about suspected child cruelty. Yes, a child may be thrilled to sit behind the wheel of a lorry, but we would argue that it is child abuse to put a youngster in potential danger. These were not prank videos, but apparent law-breaking activities, which could have had disastrous consequences for all involved.

The First Minister's call for anyone with information about the incidents to give it to police should be heeded. There should be no hiding place for anyone showing such disregard for life and safety before this develops into a craze.

Belfast Telegraph