Waves of Illegal Street Racing throughout the United States

Photo by Noah Boyer

Glamorized in films like the Fast and the Furious franchise, video games, and other media, street racing at first glance seems exciting and can get adrenaline pumping. During the beginning of the 2020 COVID Pandemic, street racers took advantage of the seemingly quiet streets causing a noticeable increase of illegal street racing and street takeovers.

Street takeovers are noticeably different from street racing, according to one Dallas local named Wikiii. Street takeovers occur when drivers block road access to streets or even major highways to perform slides and donuts on the road or in the middle of intersections amidst spectators. In the drivers' eyes, they are putting on a show. To many residents, government officials, and law enforcement, they are more than just a nuisance - they are a threat to public safety.

On average, 9 out of every 100,000 drivers has received a citation for street racing. Furthermore, nationwide the average number of vehicle-related deaths per 100,000 people in 2017 was 11.4, and the percentage of drivers that had accumulated a prior speeding violation was 11.31%.

Andrew Selsky from AP News reports:

"Jaye Sanford, a 52-year-old mother of two, was driving home in suburban Atlanta on Nov. 21 (2020) when a man in a Dodge Challenger muscle car who was allegedly street racing crashed into her head-on, killing her.

On New Year's Eve (2020) in Mississippi, drivers blocked traffic on an interstate highway in Jackson, the state capital, for an hour while they spun out and did donuts, etching circles in the pavement.

On the night of May 2 (2021), a 28-year-old woman was killed in Phoenix when a street racer crashed into her car. A man was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

Police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, handed out thousands of tickets for speeding and racing since a crackdown began in October.

In Denver, police have deployed a helicopter to track races, closed lanes often used by racers and sent officers to places where racers meet. On April 3, a mother was killed when a street racer broadsided her car in downtown Denver.

In one of the most notorious incidents, hundreds of street racers clogged a stretch of interstate in nearby Aurora on March 7 while they raced and cruised. Police warned other motorists to stay away amid reports of guns being brandished and fireworks going off."

Why is illegal street racing so dangerous?

  • Intoxication - along with the fast cars comes a scene of people known to engage in drinking (sometime underage) or using illegal substances which can seriously impair ones judgment behind the wheel.
  • Pedestrians & Onlookers - Groups of people are know to spectate at these races and because of the legality of street racing, there are no repercussions to keep these onlookers or passersby safe from someone who could potentially lose control of their vehicle.
  • Disregard of Traffic Signals - Street racers often have no regard for traffic lights, stops signs, yields or anything in between. This not only endangers those involved in street racing but other drivers and pedestrians as well.
  • Dangerous Speeds - Racing obviously indicates high speeds however speeds that range anywhere from 100 MPH and 200 MPH are significantly more dangerous on residential roads. These speeds give drivers less reaction time to avoid other driver, pedestrians, and anything else in their path and present a high chance of a serious collision.

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