A disorderly 12-year-old boy was arrested in Broken Hill last weekend, after police caught him behind the wheel of a car some 1,300 kilometres from his home in Kendall, near Port Macquarie.
Highway patrol officers flagged the vehicle down after noticing that its bumper was dragging along the ground. Apparently the disorderly little scamp was one third of the way through his nationwide pilgrimage to Perth.
While this story of a young child cutting sick on Australia’s roads may seem like one-of-a-kind, it’s worth pointing out that it’s not an entirely isolated case. Towards the end of 2015, a 12-year-old girl was arrested in Tasmania after she was caught driving a car at 122km/h on a major road, late on a Saturday night. Back in 2013, another 12-year-old girl was arrested for driving an allegedly stolen vehicle at 160km/h down the Princes Highway in Victoria, headed for Geelong.
That makes for three separate, worrying reports of preteens sundering some pretty serious national road laws in recent memory. And it begs a pertinent question:
How old is 12 really?
When I was 12 years old I shat my dacks at school camp. Why? Because I had a calamitous bout of diarrhoea, in short, and my dear old mum was running a little late on the pickup. The toilets were locked. My fate was all but out of my hands.
But at 12 years of age it also never occurred to me that I might have had any other option than to simply stand there and wait, with my sweating brow and my shaking knees and my quaking guts, for someone else to come and deliver me to the john. A driver’s licence was some three years out of reach – I was barely on my provisional pen licence at the time – and my conception of grand theft auto was limited to jogging around Vice City with an Acapulco shirt and a chainsaw.
I was a mere boy, in other words: a boy too young and afraid to take matters into his own hands; to grab life by the wheel of the nearest Toyota Camry and, in the daredevil spirit of man-o-the-time Shannon Noll, drive.
This guy, on the other hand: this fucking guy, who at 12 years of age carjacked his family whip and bee-lined it for the other end of Australia, is a man. As the Google Maps indicates, the car trip from the East coast of NSW to Perth takes somewhere around 43 hours, with a sizeable chunk of the journey spent barrelling on a dead-straight road through the arid landscape of the Nullarbor plain.
Even to make it as far as Broken Hill, this precocious little runaway would have had to demonstrate enough independence and self-sufficiency to stop, fill up the tank (grab a dog’s eye and a Gatorade for $3) and pay on at least two, maybe three separate occasions. Just last year, meanwhile, I squirted unleaded petrol into a diesel engine, rendering it demonstrably fucked, and on more than one occasion tried to PayPass with my Opal card. Whether I could have made it as far as Dubbo without calling in support from NRMA is pretty much up for grabs.
The 12-year-old lawbreaker was taken to Broken Hill police station after the arrest. Of course, he’ll most likely be charged as a juvenile – meaning he’ll be back behind the wheel before you can say “big black shiny car.”
Source: The Guardian
Feature image: Wheels24