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Inspired by movie franchises and professional drivers in sports such as stock car racing, many find themselves tempted to speed in competition with other vehicles on the road. This practice may seem amusing, but ignoring the dangers of drag racing illegally in an unsanctioned event imperils the lives of drivers and everyone around them, often leading to street racing accidents, serious injuries, and even death.
Illegal street racing statistics show that young men between 15 and 23 years of age lead the participation in street car races, while more than half of all deaths are accounted to victims between the ages of 15 and 50 years.
According to the NHTSA, the leading cause of death among young drivers ages 16 to 20 is vehicular accidents. In 2001, 87% of deaths among young people were related to speeding in illegal racing activities.
Why is Street Racing Dangerous? Common Causes of Street Racing Accidents
- High speed
It is not uncommon to see drivers clearly exceeding the allowed speed limit on any given road. Even speeds of 10, 20, or 30 mph over the speed limit lead to high accident rates, and are one of the most frequent causes of accidents – especially in street racing.
The higher the speed of a vehicle, the more difficult and risky it is to perform a maneuver to avoid another car or obstruction in the road, thereby increasing the chances of a serious traffic collision.
- Driving drunk
Driving under the influence of alcohol is one of the main causes of street racing accidents. Getting behind the wheel of a car while over the legal limit of blood alcohol content (BAC) is illegal for a reason; the impairment effects of alcohol are well-documented in increasing the risk of accidents among drivers, and even more dangerous when compounded with illegal street racing.
- Rain and other weather conditions
If the weather changes, the roads change. Car accidents occur frequently on rainy days, as water creates slippery and dangerous road conditions for any type of vehicle, which in turn can lead to cars “skidding.”
Many street racers do not care about “a little rain,” which can greatly increases the chances of a street race accident.
- Ignoring red lights
Red means stop. This is one of the most dangerous causes of an accident, since running a red light at high speed and crashing often leads to multiple collisions, which then puts many more people at risk.
To reduce the chances of being hit in an intersection, it’s important to look both ways even when approaching a green light. Few drivers involved in street racing accidents pay heed to this warning, risking tragic consequences for everyone in the area.
Incidents spurred by the actions of an aggressive driver on the road are common, and can cloud the judgement of even the most cautious driver. During an illegal street race, this state of mind can be even more dangerous, with anger and aggressive driving chief among the dangers of drag racing illegally in an unsanctioned event.
Common Injuries From Street Racing Accidents
Serious accidents can also result in lifelong consequences, and can become a heavy financial burden due to the potential surgeries, treatments, and therapies resulting from the incident.
Is Drag Racing the Same as Street Racing?
Despite the innate dangers of drag racing or any other sanctioned vehicular sport, legal drag races are held at an authorized course with security authorities close by.
Street racing, on the other hand, happens on public streets, and often include two amateur drivers who race at high speeds. Street racing (or illegal drag racing) is unlawful and puts other individuals in the area in grave danger.
How Many Deaths Are Caused by Street Racing? Tragic Examples of Street Racing Accidents in L.A.
The film franchise “Fast & Furious” has been a blockbuster hit among youths due to the glamorization of driving exotic cars at dangerous speeds. Unfortunately, confusing fantasy with reality can result in fatality; incidentally, in real life, Paul Walker, a protagonist of the original film, died tragically in a high-speed accident.
In the Greater Los Angeles area alone, street racing accidents resulting in fatalities have remained a common occurrence. In one example at the end of February 2016, three people were killed and four were injured after a street race unleashed a clash between several vehicles on Highway 5 in Commerce.
According to news reports, Dealtier Lockhart of Whittier competed in his Dodge Challenger with another car, when one of the drivers lost control and was hit by a truck from a parcel company.
The county attorney’s office charged Lockhart, 35, with charges of second-degree murder and other misdemeanors. If found guilty, he would spend the rest of his life in a state prison.
In another incident, three people died in November 2015 in an illegal race that took place on a stretch of Malt Street, Commerce City.
A few months earlier, two spectators died when a Mustang vehicle lost control and went into the crowd at Chatsworth. The driver, Karen Gary Balyan, 44, pleaded guilty in December on two charges of gross negligence, and admitted that she fled the scene after the accident.
In late 2014, a woman was killed in a crash that involved two vans participating in a sporadic illegal race that reached a speed of 100 miles per hour.
Efforts to Prevent Street Racing
More than 50 LAPD agents, the California Highway Patrol (CHP), Vernon Police Department (VPD), and corporations that make up the Street Racing Tracking (SRT) unit, have begun an initiative to aggressively patrol any associated sectors after learning of illegal drag race meetings on the streets from their intelligence work.
This effort not only includes fining offenders, but also includes a database to report repeat offenders to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), resulting in the suspension of their driver’s licenses. In addition, SRT agents are certified to inspect and fine vehicles with altered engines and illegal devices.
Do I Need a Lawyer If I Was Injured as a Passenger or Bystander in a Street Race Accident?
Anyone who helps or participates in a speed contest violates the law and could be cited. According to the laws of the Department of Motor Vehicles, if you are a spectator, if you observe, or are present in illegal car racing games or in a place, public street, highway, or private property where preparations are made for such activities, you could be guilty and cited to court.
That makes it imperative for you to get a lawyer if you are injured as a passenger or bystander.
Seeking Compensation After Injuries from a Street Race Accident
In many cases, those injured or killed as a result of the dangers of drag racing illegally are bystanders who have been involved in the incident at no fault of their own. If you or a loved one have been injured due to the negligence of a driver in a street race accident, Avrek Law may be able to help.
The skilled attorneys at Avrek Law have more than 50 years of combined experience successfully resolving cases for personal injury clients. With more than $1 Billion recovered in over 45,000 cases, we’re here to help. Contact us today for a free personal injury evaluation – our team is here to help!