Street Racing: A Growing Threat on California Roads

For many, driving is simply a necessity, an in-between time at best and often a headache. For others, however, driving is a passion. These enthusiasts view a well-built engine as an object of beauty; there can never be enough power and speed. Most car lovers understand that power carries risk but some choose to engage in risky pursuits. Street racing is dangerous and a threat to both those involved as well as innocent bystanders. It is a growing problem and one that is of grave concern to our San Francisco accident law firm.

Street Racing in the Headlines
Recent headlines from across the country have provided a grim reminder of the dangers of street racing. On April 30, as detailed by KABC, a pair of crashes involving eight cars and one bicycle occurred in South Los Angeles. Reports suggest that two cars had been racing when both were involved in nearly simultaneous collisions. The fiery crash claimed the life of one man, Jose Cuevas, a driver who had not been involved in the racing itself.

ABC News also reported on a particularly disturbing incident that occurred on a highway near Atlanta on May 10. According to Georgia State Patrol officials, a woman had her young child onboard when she took part in a race. She lost control of her vehicle, colliding with a guardrail before being hit by a pickup truck. The 7 month-old child and a 19 year-old passenger died in the accident. The truck’s occupants also suffered injuries.

Statistics and Studies
Statistics on street racing accidents are difficult to find, likely because drivers don’t want to admit involvement. Additionally, as noted in a report published last fall in USA Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) recently changed their parameters for reporting on street racing. NHTSA data shows that 153 people died in 122 racing-related collisions in the U.S. from 2001 to 2010. This statistic only includes incidents where at least one driver was charged with illegal racing. Previously, the agency used a broader definition that (more accurately) included all crashes where investigators concluded that racing was involved. Under that framework, 1,047 people died in racing incidents from 2001 to 2008.

One of the few studies focused on racing appeared in the journal Injury Prevention in 2004, a piece titled “The fast and the fatal: street racing fatal crashes in the United States.” The authors found that, while fatal accidents in general are spread fairly evenly throughout the day, fatal street racing accidents occurred most often in the late evening and early morning hours. Street racing deaths were also five times more likely to occur in urban regions compared to other fatal accidents. Perhaps the most interesting statistic is that fatal street racing crashes were less likely than other deadly incidents to occur on roads with speed limits over 65mph, yet they were six times more likely to actually involve speeds above 65mph.

Protecting Street Racing Victims
The Injury Prevention study, which notably only looked at deadly crashes and not those involving non-fatal injuries, concludes that street racing is a factor in only a small percentage of life-ending crashes. While this may be true, it does not change another underlying truth — street racing is dangerous and deadly. It is also, by all accounts and by anecdotal evidence, a threat on the rise. Street racing deaths are tinged with an extra element of tragedy because they are completely avoidable. Accidents are an unfortunate reality, but it is hard to label street racing crashes true accidents when they stem from a knowing and blatant disregard for safety.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of street racing accident in San Francisco, Sacramento, or elsewhere in Northern California, we can help. Please call to arrange a free consultation with our Northern California street racing injury attorney.

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