Racing on the Street

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Street racing on public roads: thrill or death wish?

hide captionStreet racing on public roads: thrill or death wish?

Source: Clearly Ambiguous

I'm not gonna lie — I always thought The Fast and the Furious was a sexy movie, and not just because of Paul Walker. It portrays street racing as this sick* hobbie, with tricked-out rides and loads of heart-pounding adrenaline. Illegal as it may be, it's an underground circuit of which I secretly wished I could be a part, if only I was cool enough.** That is, until I caught wind of a deadly street racing crash in Maryland this past weekend that killed eight spectators and wounded several others. It made me realize, in a way I never had before, how dangerous racing at high speeds can be — for both drivers and onlookers. Today we take a deeper look at street racing, and what's being done to regulate it. If you have any experience with this pastime — either as a racer or a spectator — tell us your story.

* No, "sick" is a good thing, Mom.
** Tear, sigh.

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I've heard this story several times and far too many other stories with the same punch line. X number killed and injured.

I purchased my first motorcycle at the age of 21. By the time I reached my 22nd birthday I had racked up 3 tickets from riding less than intelligently and countless warnings and curbside tongue-lashings from police officers that pulled me over but decided to let me go. Even now at the age of 32 and married with two young sons, every cop within 50 miles knows my name. I still tend to open the throttle a bit more than I should, but as I've grown I've had the misfortune of seeing all of the consequences first hand. I've seen more than a few motorcycle accidents at speeds of (or in access of) 150 mph. I've seen limbs completely severed and I saw a friend taking a turn and leaning off of his bike with his body over the yellow line as a car rounded the turn. The end result was my buddy's face hitting the car's bumper. Even with a helmet, it didn't end well.

For me, street racing is nothing new. I don't drag race on a strip of public road anymore. Instead, I have taken the test and earned a road-racing license with CCS. There are also open track days available where others with an insatiable appetite for adrenaline can sign up and push the limits of themselves and their ride whether it is a bike or a car. Drag racing or road racing, there are places out there for people to do it safely.

The sad part is that this type of incident will continue to occur and no law will ever completely stop it. Boys will be boys and nearly every young driver with the slightest amount of testosterone feels invincible when they have control of the throttle. So with that said, I think there should be far more awareness of local tracks. Kids need options and as residents complain about noise levels from racetracks in their area, the fact of the matter is that these racetracks do save lives.

Drag strips with open track nights allow licensed individuals to race all night for $10.00 to $40.00. Road course tracks are about $110 to $200 for the day. It's a relatively inexpensive way to burn that adrenalin in a completely controlled environment with multiple safety crews and EMT's on hand. But with local communities arguing over racetracks and limiting hours of operation or completely refusing to allow anyone to build a track, these types of accidents will continue to occur.

Sent by Mike Middleton | 7:40 PM | 2-19-2008

there aren't enough cheap legal drag strips

Sent by alan | 11:39 AM | 2-20-2008

First of all, Lynn, it is not "street car racing", it is "street racing". Now that that is out of the way, I don't understand why it is so difficult to understand what street racing is. Any race that is not on a sanctioned track, whether it be through traffic on an expressway in the middle of the day, down a two lane road in the middle of the night, or in a construction site as your guest stated, is a "street race". Why do people do it? Because they like the rush and they want to defend their car's power and their driving ability when challenged by other drivers.

In addition, I want to state that street racing does NOT have any association with auto theft, illegal drug use, DUI's, or, especially, gang violence. I have raced on the street and most everybody at the spots are your regular joe's sitting at the cubicle next to you every monday morning.

Lastly, I would simply like to point out, because no one else has, that the accident in Maryland was not caused by street racers. The accident was caused by someone who was driving up on a group of people AFTER the race had taken place. I don't quite see how someone cannot see a group of people gathered on a highway, whether it was the middle of the night or not, and I also feel that if he had sounded his horn and hit his brakes that the spectators would have known to get out of the way as quickly as possible (I have seen this happen before). This leads me to believe that the driver was either not paying attention (i.e. fiddling with his stereo, talking on his cell phone, etc.) or that he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Whatever reason, he did not take any action to avoid the accident and/or warn the spectators on the road, and that is not something for which street racing is to blame.

Sent by David | 1:34 AM | 2-21-2008

Are you kidding?

Auto crashes, street racing among the top, are the Number One killer of young adults in the nation. The fellow who shifts blame from the street race in Maryland to the driver of the car that killed the eight people... he's wrong.. STREET RACING WAS THE CATALYST TO THAT SCENE. The other fellow says that, "there are NOT enought drag strips." He's correct.. every major community needs to make way for a facility where the young can go.. use an airport, parking lot.. but some place the young and excersie their youth. This isn't about just racing a car.. it's about youth. Even the Amish recognize that there 17-18 years youth are going to try risky things. TAKE CARE.. be safe. drive smart!

Sent by The Cowboy | 5:11 PM | 3-7-2008

Are YOU kidding???

"Nearly 4,000 people aged 15 - 24 die by suicide each year in the United States." [http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071113030653AA2FRY8&show=7]

"In 2001, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that police listed street racing as a factor in 135 fatal crashes." [http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070720042638AATsDDc]

135 fatal crashes?? If there were five people in every one of those cars it wouldn't come NEAR the teen suicide rate in this country! Add accidental deaths from illegal drug and alcohol use to the mix and street racing will be a lone penny at the bottom of the atlantic ocean. I think it definitely takes a back seat (no pun intended) to American society as the "Number One killer of young adults in this nation". Where are you getting your information, Cowboy?? Or do you just want it to be true, therefore it is, just like the police and media in Maryland?

Also, after going to many a "street racer" gathering, I have found that the "young adults" are not the craziest, fastest ones on the road. The middle aged men are the ones who have put $100,000 under the hood of their car and are racing up to 200 mph. If you want to know the real truth about street racing, talk to a STREET RACER, don't just listen to a professor who wrote a book...

Sent by David | 1:13 AM | 3-21-2008

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