Facts About Street Racing
Illegal street racing has become a pressing problem for cities and counties throughout the United States. Street racing was glorified in 1973 with George Lucas's "American Graffiti" and in 2001 with "The Fast and the Furious" and its 2003 sequel. But long after premieres and box office tallies have come and gone, officials across the country continue to wage war against the love for speed, the chase, and a rush of adrenaline. Teens are not the only ones who participate in street racing, and racing is just one factor - including speeding, drinking, and error - in teen fatalities each year. The number of fatalities of teens involving speed - including driving too fast for conditions, in excess of the limit, or racing - has crept up in recent years. Forty-five percent of fatalities for teen drivers ages 16 to 20 involved speed in 2003, up from 43 percent in 1999, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Read more National Statistics here > >
Why is Street Racing Risky?
Illegal street racing activity continues to advance in popularity, especially among young adults. Nationally, illegal street racing is claiming hundreds of lives and injuring thousands annually. Illegal street races are notorious for being poorly controlled and randomly organized. They also operate with a minimum of rules and safety measures. New communicative technology such as websites, cell phones and underground publications as well as a new generation with more free time, financial resources and a passion for speed has significantly heightened the risk for both participants and bystanders. Officials say inexperience behind the wheel often plays a role, but so does risky behavior and bad judgment.
Why is Street Racing Popular With Young People?
As with all high-risk behaviors, there are multiple reasons why youth are attracted to illegal street racing. Young offenders are often quoted about the excitement that surrounds these loosely organized street racing events; the thrill of competition, high stakes wagering, "something to do" on any given night, their lack of awareness of any community-based legally organized track racing alternative, the low risk of being apprehended, and "it won't happen to me" attitude, and an automobile based "social culture" of young adults. The fact that there are multiple causes underlying the escalation of illegal street racing in our community calls for a comprehensive multiple intervention strategy which is designed to directly address illegal street racing in an across the board fashion.
Street Racing in San Diego
As recently as 2002, San Diego County was no exception to this highly dangerous youth oriented risk-taking behavior. During 2002, San Diego suffered the devastation of 16 fatalities and 31 serious injuries as a direct result of illegal street racing activity. When these 2002 data were converted to a combined mortality/morbidity incidence rate, we were faced with the fact that for every 1,000 young people who choose to illegal street race in our community, 49 were either killed or seriously injured. A rate of that magnitude was properly defined as epidemic in nature. Read more National Statistics here > >
In 2003, the city of San Diego was among the first to implement a system that allows for the permanent seizure of a vehicle used for street racing. Vehicles will be permanently seized where the offenders have prior convictions for a serious driving offence.(39) . With grant money, the San Diego Police Department established a full-time unit called Dragnet whose sole purpose has been fighting drag racing. They also pushed the City Council to make watching drag races a crime and forfeiture of a car the possible punishment for racing. The city of Los Angeles soon followed San Diego’s example, and also prosecutes street racing spectators, who are committing a misdemeanor.
Penalties for Street Racing
In California, a conviction for street racing is punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000 a minimum of 30 days and maximum of 6 months imprisonment, or both. If it is a second or subsequent offense and serious bodily injury occurs, the jail time is increased to a maximum of one year. In addition, the vehicle in question may be impounded for 30 days, and a prohibition on driving may be imposed for up to six months. Moreover, a person who aids or abets any activity associated with street racing is guilty of a misdemeanor. The city of Fremont, California, has gone so far as to ban all traffic between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. on certain roads popular with street racers. Spectators’ vehicles, as well as participants’ vehicles, may be seized by the police.