Underage Driving

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There's a reason the legal driving age in Ohio is 16 and 16 1/2 in Kentucky. Kids younger than that in most cases lack the emotional and cognitive skills to bear the responsibility of operating a vehicle, said Dr. James Brush, a child psychologist who has a practice in Monfort Heights.

“Children at age 12 can become frightened or overwhelmed much more than older children,” Dr. Brush said.

That's what may have happened early Friday when 12-year-old Courtney Mathis of Mount Airy was caught by police driving a car, allegedly without his parents' knowledge.

TIPS FOR PARENTS

• Know what your children are doing and where they are • Talk with them about consequences of their actions
• Stress responsibility
• Put keys where underage children cannot get to them
• If you awaken in the middle of the night, check to make sure your children are in the house.

Source: Sgt. Tom Butler, Hamilton County Sheriff's Office
The subsequent events led to the deaths of both Courtney and Cincinnati Police Officer Kevin Crayon, who tried to apprehend the boy.

Courtney's fatal ride is the fifth accident involving under-age drivers in the Tristate in the past year.

“A 12-year-old driving a car may be shocking to the community,” said Keith Fangman, a Cincinnati police officer and president of Queen City Lodge No. 69 of the Fraternal Order of Police.

But, “it is not uncommon to find 11-, 12- and 13-year-olds driving stolen cars for a joy ride or driving a relative's car without their permission,” he said.

Other recent incidents:

• On Aug. 27, four people were injured — including two Harrison policemen — after a 14-year-old girl led police in a pursuit on Interstate 74.

• On July 16, a 13-year-old Florence boy stole a car in Covington and led police on a chase south on Interstate 75 before colliding with another car on Buttermilk Pike. The front...
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