By Atom Markarian
Armenia’s traffic police pledged on Thursday tough action against youths planning to drive their parents’ cars during Friday’s day-long celebrations of their high school graduation -- a dubious ritual widely practiced since the Soviet times.
Official ceremonies marking the end of students’ secondary education have traditionally been followed by class parties that often spill over into the streets of Yerevan and other Armenian cities. Driving cars is commonplace. Youths whose parents own cars see that as their first glimpse into adult life and independence.
But almost all of them are below the age of 18 and, under to Armenian law, not eligible for a driving license. Many of them lack driving experience and, according to the police, are often drunk. Law-enforcement authorities say the number of car accidents is always higher on graduation days.
“We are not going to tolerate juvenile driving tomorrow,” the head of the interior ministry’s State Traffic Inspectorate, Markar Ohanian, warned. He said traffic police officers will patrol streets across the country “from early in the morning” and will immediately intercept and detain delinquents.
Markarian said parents also have an important role to play. “Dear parents, I am asking you: do not allow your children to seat at the wheel,” he appealed to them.
Some 15,000 students will finish their 10-year schools on Friday.