When the coronavirus pandemic caused state shutdowns last spring, many cities experienced virtually empty streets, free of traffic. Traffic levels have remained low in many places, as many people continue to stay home rather than go out. Unfortunately, a dangerous trend has emerged on many city roadways as a result. Street racing has surged, sometimes leading to deadly accidents.
Street racing becomes a real danger
In Phoenix, a 28-year-old woman was killed in May 2020 when a street racer crashed into her car. In November, in Atlanta, Jaye Sanford, a 52-year-old mother of two, died in a head-on crash caused by a driver who was allegedly street racing in his Dodge Challenger muscle car. On New Year’s Eve, street racers in Jackson, Mississippi, blocked traffic on an interstate for more than an hour while they spun out and did donuts.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, police gave out hundreds of tickets for street racing in October, when they started cracking down on the practice. In Denver, police have used helicopters and closed road lanes to stop drivers from street racing.
Because of the surge, lawmakers and police in several states have pushed to increase the penalties for street racing. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a new statue that mandates 10 days of jail time for anyone convicted of street racing. In Phoenix, the city council approved a measure that will allow police to impound a car involved in street racing for 30 days. New York lawmakers want to authorize use of traffic cameras overnight, to catch more street racers.
Why street racing is so dangerous
Street racing is so dangerous because when drivers reach high speeds:
- Drivers are more likely to lose control of their vehicles.
- Drivers have less time to react to unexpected traffic or pedestrians.
- If drivers cause an accident, it often will cause devastating or deadly injuries because of the force involved.
- Drivers going high speeds face an increased risk of roll-over crashes and skidding off the road.
Yes, part of the reason street racing has become popular is that it’s been easier to do with fewer cars on the road. It’s given people a way to have fun and gather in a difficult time. Yet, if you feel tempted to join this trend, you need to know you are taking on tremendous risks – where you endanger your life and that of others.