Despite public awareness campaigns and massive crackdowns, street racing is becoming a popular and deadly past time for teens and young adults across the country and around the world. While only 8 years ago less than 150 deaths in the United States were attributed to street racing, recent estimates seem to indicate a steady climb in street racing-related fatalities. The most popular regions for street racing appear to be Centered in the South and in Southern California. However, this is a problem law enforcement finds itself facing almost everywhere bored people with fast cars happen to be.
This kind of racing is illegal and endangers not just the participants, but also people who just happen to be occupying the same public street as the street racers. Street racing causes increased wear on the roads street racers use, but also can cause property damage when cars go out of control. Street racing taxes law enforcement dollars and, in some areas, has been linked to a rise in car thefts as the criminal-minded target fast street cars to feed the growing market.
Street racers claim that they do not endanger others as they take precautions to ensure their raceways are unpopulated or not frequently traveled, however, the statistics show a different story. Florida and California both yield a long list of deaths and injuries attributed to street racing, sometimes several a week. Tracks offer an alternative to street racing, but often charge a fee or impose other restrictions street racers find objectionable. There is always the simple fact that street racing, because it is illegal, offers more of an adrenaline rush for some people.
Authorities blame everything from video games to television and movies which popularize this dangerous and adrenalized activity. However, the thrills of street racing are obvious: high speeds, breaking the law and the inevitable “cool factor” combine to give participants a tremendous adrenaline rush. No one needs to added encouragement of video games or other media to see the attraction. Some authorities trace the origins of street racing to the bootleggers of the Prohibition era, while others consider it to be a more modern trend and point to the popularity of Manga and other Asian ephemera as the beginning of the rise in street racing. Street racing is very popular in Japan, however, there is significant history of street racing in the United States and in Europe that pre-date the modern Manga craze.
A quick browse on the internet can yield hundreds or credible links to street racing sites, from all over the world. While many excuse their sport as merely taking everyone’s urge to speed a little while driving to the next level, few of these sites address the risks to drivers or those uninvolved with the “sport.”
Participants can spend significant amounts of time and money building and tricking out their cars and maintaining their car’s performance. This is what some experts cite as the reason certain cars are targeted for crimes. Areas with a large street racing scene often report a higher rate of car-related theft than other areas, but the statistics are not clear as these areas also often have higher car-related crime in general.
Street racers are not nearly as protected as professional racers. Their cars are not designed for racing and lack the roll cages with which professional racecars are equipped. Street racers very rarely wear helmets and, in some cases, do not even wear seat belts. Statistics from the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) indicate that for every 1,000 racers, 49 people will be injured. While the wording is not clear, it seems to indicate that those include racers, spectators and innocent passers-by.
Professional racing organizations and racers have mounted a growing campaign against illegal racing, citing safety concerns for drivers and others on the road. Unfortunately, many of the racers indicate that they began as street racers or spectators of street racing. Across the board, however, these racing experts agree that street racing, no matter how many precautions the racers take, will always potentially endanger that one, innocent person who just happens to be on a deserted country road at 3am.