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Street Racing and the Pandemic: A Deadly Duo

Street Racing and the Pandemic: A Deadly Duo For as long as there have been ways to travel, there have been those more interested in the journey than the destination. While some people take this to mean long, scenic routes and plenty of stops, others look at motor vehicles and see one thing and one thing only: speed.

Racing is not new. NASCAR has been bringing high-speed car races to the public eye for decades now. And, as is commonly found alongside legal sport, there is a widely popular illegal niche, where entire streets and blocks are turned into unregulated tracks and people line up to watch the dangerous spectacle. With the pandemic, this sport is only becoming more common, and the results have been devastating.

Why is street racing increasing?

Street-racing is most popular in states with long stretches of uninterrupted road, like California and – you guessed it – Arizona, but you can find street racers anywhere. California, for example, is seeing an increase in racing that’s as brazen as it is dangerous, and a high-speed crash seems to be costing lives every single weekend. Fans and drivers alike seek the best possible environment to truly put the pedal to the metal, and country roads with minimal traffic fit that bill. Because of that, the nation as a whole has seen an increase in street-racing since the beginning of the pandemic, especially during the height of it during 2020.

The reason is simple: fewer people are driving. Fewer drivers means less traffic, which means more open-road racing. Participants may falsely assume the lack of traffic equals lack of danger, so they jump at the opportunity.

But make no mistake – street-racing is deadly, to both the drivers and all around them. The average passenger cars are not speed machines, and it takes a considerable amount of work (and aftermarket parts) to make them so. This only increases the risks, because not only do you have drivers speeding and drifting on public roads, but they are doing so in vehicles that are patched together in a way that would make Mary Shelley proud.

Since these races tend to happen late at night and in (seemingly) empty locations, participants believe they can’t be caught as long as they don’t kill anyone. Ironically, this leads to an increase in recklessness, which does, inevitably, kill someone, whether it’s a pedestrian, another driver, or themselves.

What kinds of injuries can be caused by a crash with a street racer?

In the worst case scenario, a collision with a street racer will be fatal, either to the racer or the person he or she hurt. Survivors, however, may suffer severe injuries with long-term, even permanent effects. This is because speed is a primary factor in most severe injury cases, and by definition, street racers are going unconscionably fast. It is entirely possible to be thrown from the vehicle, or to be crushed within the vehicle. The chances of one or more vehicles rolling over is high. Brain injuries, spinal cord damage, loss of limb, permanent nerve damage – all of these life-altering injuries are possible in a collision with a street racer.

The Phoenix solution to street-racing

In 2020 alone, right here in Arizona, car accident fatalities rose to a 12-year high despite fewer drivers being on the roads. The increase in street racing has only complicated the issue.

The Phoenix Police Drag Racing Task Force and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office have been working together to reduce the number of racers. These efforts include legal revisions in the works to make it easier to do so. The goal is not just to punish those caught, but to discourage them and any others from trying it again in the future. This is absolutely a necessary goal, considering over 300 citations related to street-racing and reckless driving have been issued in 2021 here in Phoenix alone.

The new consequences for street racing in Arizona

First-time offenders are still only looking at a misdemeanor if they get caught, but those convicted a second time within a two year period will automatically be charged with a Class Six Felony and will not be eligible for “probation, pardon, suspension of sentence or release on any other basis until the person has served not less than ten days in jail or prison,” according to the statute. Fines have largely stayed the same, but there is now an additional tier above the previous $500 limit that charges $1000 for felony-level convictions.

What happens if I’m hurt by a street racer in Phoenix?

If you or a loved one sustains an injury caused by a collision with a street racer, you can file a personal injury lawsuit to collect damages. This can include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Funeral and burial costs, in the event of a fatal accident

Because street racing is intentionally reckless, you may be entitled to additional punitive damages.

If you or a loved one are the victim of a high-speed crash caused by a street racer or any reckless driver, take comfort in knowing the law is on your side and there are people who can help you get the damages you are owed. At Plattner Verderame, P.C, our experienced Phoenix car accident attorneys have helped clients throughout Arizona seek justice, and it is our pleasure to fight for you and your family. To get started on your recovery together, call us in Phoenix or Tempe today at 602-266-2002 or contact us.