Parents are being advised to think twice before buying their children and teens mini motos or off-road quad bikes for Christmas.
Mini motos - replicas of full sized motorbikes - are not designed to be ridden on roads or footpaths and council chiefs say parents considering buying a one as a present may not realise that to be road legal, the vehicle must be registered, taxed, have an MOT, and the rider must be over the age of 16, have a driving licence and wear an approved crash helmet.
If these conditions are not met for use on the road, they can only be ridden legally on private land with the permission of the landowner - never on public land, which includes the roads, pavements, playing fields, parks and open spaces.
Coun Moira Smith, lead member for area management and community safety, said: “It is that time of year again when parents may be thinking about buying these vehicles for their children or teens.
But we would strongly urge them to be clear on the facts before buying one as a gift.
“Although mini motos may be appealing to youngsters, they are not toys, they are machines, and some are capable of reaching very high speeds.
“When used illegally in public places, they are a nuisance and very noisy not to mention there is a real risk that someone will get hurt, whether they are the biker or another member of the public.
She added: “It is important that parents are aware of the dangers and the law around mini motos. It is their responsibility to ensure they are used legally and safely.”
Council bosses say anyone in breach of the restrictions and found riding them in an anti-social manner could face criminal proceedings and have the bikes seized by police.
Anyone who sees these bikes ridden illegally are encouraged to report incidents by calling South Tyneside Council’s Customer Contact Centre on (0191) 427 7000 and provide as much information as possible.