Children as young as 12 are among hundreds of teenagers caught by police for driving offences in South Yorkshire.
South Yorkshire Police has revealed officers have charged 486 offences to under-18s in the last five years.
Figures revealed as part of The Star’s Your Right To Know Campaign found police charged three 12-year-olds in 2011, while eight youngsters aged 13 were charged between 2009 and November 2014.
Over the same period, police also charged 26 youngsters aged 14, 57 aged 15, 128 aged 16 and 264 aged 17.
The number of under 18s charged has dropped dramatically over the five years, from 160 in 2009 to just 34 in 2014.
South Yorkshire Police said the reduction in offending was a positive indicator the work it was carrying out was having an impact on young people.
A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “We are committed in reducing the number of driving offences and promoting road safety to young people.
“Working closely with local authorities and other organisations, all part of the Safer Roads Partnership, a number of interactive and informative initiatives have been delivered to highlight and educate young people of the dangers and consequences driving offences can have.
“This has included the Drive for Life campaign in 2012, which aimed to reduce the number of collisions involving young drivers and educating them to make sensible and safe decisions when out on the roads
“The initiatives encourage young people to think about the impact their decision could have, not just on their own life, but the lives of their friends, family and their local community.
“The reduction in driving offences is a positive indicator the work we are carrying out is having an impact and giving young people the information they need to be able to make the right decisions.
“We will continue to work in partnership to further reduce this figure and aim to keep South Yorkshire roads safe.”
However, road safety charity Brake said more needs to be done to protect young people on the road and called for a graduated licensing system.
The figures revealed driving without a licence attracted the highest number of prosecutions for under 18s in South Yorkshire.
Officers apprehended and charged youngsters on 260 occasions for driving otherwise in accordance with a licence. Other offences include drink driving, driving without insurance, failing to stop after an accident and dangerous driving.
James McLoughlin, for Brake, said: “Road crashes are still the biggest killer of young people in the UK, so it’s obvious more has to be done to protect young people on the road. Less than one in 12 drivers are under 25, yet one in five fatal and serious injury crashes involve a driver of this age.
“We need the Government to introduce a graduated licensing system to allow young drivers to develop skills and experience gradually while exposed to less danger. It has been successful in other countries, and it’s predicted it could prevent as many as 200 deaths annually in the UK.
“Parents can help keep their children safe by encouraging them to put off getting their licence until they are older and more responsible, or at least putting restrictions on their driving. Some young people see driving as their route to independence.
“But the younger someone learns to drive, the greater the risk of them crashing and being seriously hurt or killed. Many young people don’t actually need to drive, and parents can protect their children, and save money and do their bit for the environment, by limiting the amount of time their children spend behind the wheel.”
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