Learn why drag racing is a danger for younger drivers
The Dangers of Drag Racing Among Teens
We all know and statistics have proven that younger drivers are more prone to be involved in car accidents. They are simply more likely to engage in dangerous behavior while behind the wheel. Enter: drag racing. While this past time may make you feel like you’re in the movie Fast and Furious, the real-life consequences are far more deadly.
“We know from research that young drivers are more likely to practice aggressive behavior,” stated Board Certified Trial Lawyer Amy Witherite of Eberstein Witherite, LLP. “So it’s not surprising that activities such as drag racing are more popular among this driving group. But I think it’s important that the public is aware that drag racing isn’t just a subculture in a movie, it is a dangerous type of driving that is still prevalent today.”
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How Did Drag Racing Even Start?
Per an article on the CRC Health Group website, drag racing dates back to the glamorous and wild years of the 1920s and was given the name to describe racing down the “main drag” of a town.
But it wasn’t until the 1950s when movies like Rebel Without A Cause inspired teenagers to soup up their cars and turn them into hot rods for racing. Since that time, teenagers have been more likely to drive fast and give in to the urge to race other fast cars to see who wins.
Because of this, the accident rate among young drivers is four times higher than adults and nearly half of all teen deaths from car wrecks involve speeding.
What Is Drag Racing Culture Like?
Far from simply being a plot point in a movie, drag racing that occurs in real life is more likely to take place in neighborhoods that have developed a culture around racing.
According to The New York Times, that culture is what likely lead to the death of James Miro, a young driver who died when his vehicle skidded off a road and splashed into a Brooklyn creek.
James lived in a small neighborhood in Gerritsen Beach that has a wide road with few traffic lights that attracts young drivers who want to push their speedometer to the max. In the months before James’ death, there were drag racing accidents that were reported to police in and around Gerritsen Beach.
Going back to the New York Times story, “Between 2010 and 2014, according to the New York City Department of Transportation, there were 18 serious injuries from traffic accidents on the [Gerritsen] street, which stretches for about two miles from Nostrand Avenue to the water.”
In fact, four people have died on that street since 2010 and a speed camera that police installed to help slow down vehicles, was vandalized. It has also become common in the drag racing culture to have CB radios or scanners to help them stay ahead of law enforcement and out of trouble.
A story in The Journal News looked at the dangers of drag racing and highlighted the difficulty that police have in catching people. According to Mount Pleasant, New York Police Chief Paul Oliva, drag races can occur at any time and are a risk to public safety.
Police Chief Paul Oliva said that drag racers run a fairly “sophisticated” operation in which they plan their races around police shift changes and use spotters to alert them when police officers are in the area.
Why Can’t Police Stop This? Laws Are Hard To Enforce.
In New York, where drag racing is a big problem, the laws on the books are often difficult to enforce. Since a 2009 law passed in New York allowing police to seize vehicles involved in drag racing, very few of those cars have been actually taken into custody.
In many cases the drivers are not the legal owners of the vehicles and in other cases the vehicles were under a lien, which means that the lien-holder would have the right to seize the vehicle.
A bill that would have made it a felony for a driver to have more than one drag racing citation has stalled in the New York state Assembly, frustrating Amy Paulin, a Democrat from Scarsdale who is a co-author of the bill.
“We see more incidents like this and young people are particularly susceptible,” Paulin stated. “This [bill] could act as a deterrent.”
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Eberstein Witherite, LLP
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