By Local Democracy Reporter
THE number of children under the age of 17 and facing driving bans is on the rise across Essex, DVLA figures have shown.
Data obtained through a freedom of information request shows that since 2015 there have been 67 children caught driving on Essex roads and disqualified before they can legally drive.
Of those, 13 were aged between 13 and 14.
Last year the number reached its highest point in the past four years, with 20 disqualifications including eleven 16-year olds, five 15-year olds, two 14-year olds and two 13-year olds.
This was an increase on all previous years, with 12 disqualifications recorded in 2017, 19 disqualifications in 2016 and 15 in 2015.
Most have been banned from the roads for around 12 months, but some have been hit with the largest disqualification of two years, including a 14-year old in 2016.
A spokesperson for Essex Police said: “While the majority of road offences in Essex are committed by fully licensed drivers, we have on a few occasions stopped underage drivers.
“Experienced roads policing officers are trained to identify driving behaviours, including underage drivers who have never been behind the wheel of a vehicle before.
“There have also been occasions where we have stopped moped riders, aged under 17, who can legally ride these vehicles but have committed offences.
“Offences involving underage drivers are rare. However, we continue to take them seriously and we will look to bring them court to face sentence and a possible ban.”
Government guidelines state that you can apply for a provisional driving licence when you are 15 years and nine months old and can start driving at the age of 17 after passing their driving test. Moped riders can be 16 but must also pass a practical and theory test.
Last year, the RAC warned that more than 1,000 children aged 16 and under had been banned from the roads nationally in 2017 and called underage drivers a “frightening danger to other road users”.
The national data published at the time also showed a sharp increase in underage drivers from 696 in 2014 to 1,024 in 2017.