These are all images of street races that took the lives of the cars drivers and also the lives of innocent drivers that were minding their own business and were just driving down the road and anyone one of those people could have just as easily been one of us. Street racing to some extent has always been a part of American culture whether it be in films or in pop culture. However in the past decade with films such as the Fast and the Furious series illegal street racing has become more popular than ever particularly in the states of California and Florida.
Drivers especially young and inexperienced ones participate in these races thinking that their Vin Diesel or Paul Walker and don’t consider the risks and the danger that they pose not only to themselves but to other drivers on the road. Illegal street racing is a dangerous activity that needs to be prevented and more alternatives provided to the racers other than racing their cars on the street. Despite being largely looked down upon in the automotive community because it gives real car guys a bad name street racing is still a practice that is still wildly participated in by people all around the country.
Street racing can occur almost anywhere, and everyone in the vicinity of a street race is at risk because of the high rate of speed at which the street racers are driving and their recklessness. Many of the drivers of the cars involved in street racing are young and inexperienced and can’t handle their cars at high speeds which leads to them losing control and either injuring or killing themselves as well as other drivers.
Each year in the U. S. an average of 135 people die each year from street racing according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but this number is expected to be a lot higher considering most law enforcement departments have no clear cut system in place for recording street racing related deaths. Of these deaths 60% of them were young people between the ages of 15-29.
Now 135 deaths may not seem like a staggering number, but considering these lives taken were the lives of innocent bystanders and the fact that the loss of the lives were preventable basically means these lives were taken for no reason and could have been saved if not for the actions of careless drivers. In order to prevent and stop street racing many states have instituted strict laws that would make drivers think twice before participating in a street race. In California where street racing laws are the strictest a first time offense can results in a suspended or revoked license, a jail entence with a minimum of 24 hours and a maximum of 90 days, the impound of the car for 30 days, vehicle towing and storing charges which is at minimum $1000, and if you don’t pay your car can be sold at an auction. Also starting in 2007 California started to confiscate cars that were used in street races and put them in the crusher to deter street racing, this tactic has been followed by many other states and countries as well. Street racing can also result in serious jail time for racers especially if they are involved in an accident that takes the lives of others.
In 2008 22 year old Darren Jamar Bullock was racing at an illegal street race in Maryland. During the race he lost control of his car and drove into a group of spectators watching the race killing 8 of them. Bullock was convicted of 8 counts of vehicular man slaughter plus numerous traffic offenses. The judge in the case sentenced Bullock to 30 years in prison. As you can tell by the case of Bullock street racing is simply not worth it. He will spend pretty much spend the majority of his life in prison all because he chose to drive his car recklessly, and show off to people.
I believe in order to reduce the amount of street racing on alternatives need to be provided to drivers where they can race their cars safely where no one can get hurt. Many street races occur because drivers don’t have a race track to go to and have to race on the streets. Even around here in the San Jose and Bay Area the closet race track is over 2 hours away in Sonoma, and because of this a lot of people and some that I know race on freeways in the area like 680 where they get up to speeds well in excess of 100+ miles an hour.
A lot of people that I’ve talked to said that they would love to go to track up in Sonoma but it’s just too far and it’s much easier to just go race on the freeways. In order to give racers a place to go I think more local race tracks should be constructed in areas where street racing is popular. This would give driver’s a place to go where they can race their cars without hurting anyone, and if something does go wrong there would be safety crews and ambulances at the track to help them in case of an emergency.
In addition to building race tracks and drag strips, events like Auto Crosses can be setup in empty parking lots of stadiums and even air strips such as Moffet field to give racers a place to go and race their cars safely. In fact racing cars at a track is actually cheaper than street racing because for the average amount of fines that a street racer pays which is around $5,000 they can buy 250 sessions at a drag strip or race track. By coordinating motorsport activities like the ones I mentioned drivers would be less inclined to use the streets as a racetrack thereby making the roads safer for everyone.
In the end street racing is just not worth it. It’s is a dangerous activity that puts everyone in harm’s way not just the drivers of the cars. The slight adrenaline rush that people get from racing is not worth the fines, prison sentences, or the lives of people that can be killed in street racing accidents. More needs to be done to prevent and educate young drivers so that more street racing related deaths don’t occur. By cracking down on street racing with strict laws and offering alternatives to street racing for drivers the number of street races and street racing deaths that occur can be greatly reduced.