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YouTube video of seven-year-old driver sparks police inquiry

THE CANADIAN PRESS, August 03, 2009

MONTREAL - Parents who let their seven-year-old son drive a car along a bumpy back road in Quebec and filmed it to post on YouTube could be charged if they are caught by provincial police.

Video of the youngster confidently driving a Honda sport utility vehicle surfaced on the popular video-sharing website and has been seen by police.

Letting junior test drive the car may be a rite of passage in many families but police aren't amused.

"Since seeing this video, we've opened an investigation," Sgt. Chantal Mackels said Monday.

"Once the investigation is over with, we'll give it to the Crown prosecutor who will analyze it and decide if he's issuing a criminal offence."

Mackels would not comment on what type of charges could be laid.

Besides the underage, unlicensed driver at the wheel of a swiftly moving car, none of the occupants is wearing a seatbelt.

In the video, the seven-year-old sits on the edge of the driver's seat, looking relaxed but alert as he grips the steering wheel and gets the vehicle up to 70 km/h.

His father sits in the passenger seat with the video camera and gives a running commentary, identifying the boy as Samuel from the North Shore.

Dad cheerfully notes as the speed approaches 40 km/h that "it's a little fast."

Observing his son is calmly chewing his gum as he drives, the father tells him to "smile for the camera" although his mother, who sits in the back seat with a little girl on her lap, apparently tells him not to distract the boy.

Another boy sits excitedly in the back seat beside his mother. She says something unintelligible at one point and gestures but smiles for the camera when it is pointed at her.

The boy's father tells Samuel he loves him several times and when he hits 70 km/h, dad starts to laugh and says, "He's rolling, he's rolling."

There is no apparent time stamp to indicate when the video was shot, although bloggers noticed it on Friday and copied it before it was quickly removed from YouTube. It has since reappeared on YouTube and several other sites.

Comments on one YouTube post that showed a copy of the video harshly criticized the parents.

"Gang of idiots," said one poster identified as MsCommonSense1.``They're on a road where a deer could have darted out at any second. . . .He doesn't have the reflexes to react quickly in emergencies."

Another poster identified as sexy69Irish pointed out the road conditions weren't ideal and there were other children in the car.

"What a complete lack of responsibility on the part of the parents. And to film it and distribute it on the Internet - not too bright!"

Last week, another seven-year-old became a media sensation in the United States when video of him leading police on a chase in Utah surfaced. The boy didn't want to go to church and snatched his father's car keys.