Movies are killing us. Literally. Movies such as The Fast and Furious have created a generation of young adults obsessed with street racing. The story is almost always the same. "Mines faster than yours." "Oh yah? Let's do it." Two lane road, side by side, racing under the moon light. Both shiny convertible Mustangs, one green the other red. One edges out in front of another and then the unthinkable, a car pulls out of a side street or a drive and suddenly there is the need to take evasive action. Sometimes they avoid the other car and instead hit a car or a house. Other times they roll their vehicle. Still other times, it all ends up in flames. But unlike the movies, real life drivers end up dead, paralyzed or severely scarred from burns so as to no longer be recognizable.
Illegal street racing, fueled by movies that glorify the danger, has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. "The Fast and the Furious" has now become a fact of every day life. The adrenalin rush is undesirable. In the case I am aware, both drivers of the mustangs were injured. One a paraplegic and the other with a severe head injury after both cars rolled over.
The internet reveals multiple street racing fatalities and injuries across the country. Often times, the victims are innocent people not involved in the race such as the 60-year-old Bakersfield, California, grandmother killed in an accident with street racers in October or the 15-year-old boy killed in an accident with street racers in Elk Grove, California. The California Highway Patrol claims 697 citations for participating in a "speed contest" in 2006. Those numbers include only highway patrol jurisdictions, not local surface streets where most races occur.
Who are these racers? There are so many, there are even clubs. Bryan C. Harrison, is president of Evo Street Racers. Bryan has a Web site on street racing. Perhaps he will visit Legal Pub and tell us why there should not be more strict punishment for street racing.
In the meantime, there are apparently two types of street races, planned and spontaneous. Spontaneous races typically have no planning and thus absolutely no thought towards safety.
Organized races tend to choose more remote locations with few cars. (There are also typically fewer cops. These races usually involve money and sometimes gambling.) Whether it is a planned race or a spontaneous race, both are illegal. Will education alone stop racing? No, but standard governors on automobiles that limit speed to 75 mph might!
2-16-08 Tragedy strikes again! Accokeek, Maryland has become the scene of carnage allegedly occurring as a by product of a street race. Specifically, a white sedan was not involved in the street race apparently accidentally drove into a crowd of 50 people gathered on a highway to watch two cars racing. Crystal Gaines told the A.P. that "(t)here were just bodies everywhere; it was horrible," Crystal Gaines, 27, learned that her father (William Gaines Sr., age 61) was among the dead. Fortunately, Crystal was able to grab and save her child but could not help her father. Gaines alleges that she did not see headlights on the white car but police apparently have not confirmed that as of this date.
The white car apparently hit people standing on the side of Route 210, according to Prince George's County Police Cpl. Clinton Copeland. A tractor-trailer may have also struck someone on the road as it tried to avoid the crash.
"It's probably one of the worst scenes I've seen...This is a situation that could have been avoided, and it's a very tragic situation," according to Copeland. Victims ranged from their 20s to 60s. Seven people are known to be dead.
3-5-08 Update by Colleency: A drag racing story is on the front page of today's (2-23-08)Washington Post, the lead story headlines: "Cheers to Screams, With Lives Shattered in Between". Long story, telling the stories of some of the 'victims'. One paragraph about the 20-yr. old father of 2, driving on a suspended license. This man drove into the crowd. Not a word - not a single, blessed word - about the racers. (Apparently no spectator at the race offered to provide the name or identity of either racer involved in the illegal race!)