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Speed Contests


Speed Contest

What is a Speed Contest?

A Speed Contest is an illegal exhibition of speed conducted on public streets or highways using a motor vehicle. It includes a motor vehicle race against another motor vehicle using a clock or other timing device. Speed contests or exhibitions of speed, commonly known as "street race," "speed race," or "drag race," threatens the well-being and safety of the public.

What Happens if I Just Watch?

You are a spectator if you watch or are present at an illegal speed contest or at a location (public street or highway, or private property) where preparations are being made for such activities, for the purpose of viewing, observing, watching, or witnessing the event as it develops. Anyone who engages, aids, or participates at a speed contest violates the law and could be cited.

Effects of Speed Contest:

  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that 5,749 teens died in the United States in 1999 from motor vehicle injuries.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that:
    • motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 16 and 20.
    • the number of fatal crashes increased 87% in 2001 as a result of speed contest.
  • The California Office of Traffic Safety reported more than 800 citations were issued in 2001 for illegal speed racing in California.
  • The California Highway Patrol (CHP) reported the following number of citations due to speed contest violations:
CHP jurisdiction—Citations with violation of California Vehicle Code (CVC) §23109
Year 23109A 23109B 23109C 23109D
2001 349 396 369 1
2002 391 100 421 0
2003 458 99 398 3
2004 380 39 321 1
2005 382 84 312 3
Statewide—Collisions where violation of CVC §23109 was the Primary Collision Factor (PCF) or the Other Associated Factor (OAF)
Year 23109A 23109B 23109C 23109D Killed Injured
2001 190 13 84 93 16 159
2002 150 10 64 76 11 122
2003 147 7 75 65 7 128
2004 145 8 70 67 8 133
2005 84 6 37 41 7 76

What Happens if I Speed Race?

The following are some of the penalties you can face if you street race:

  • Be arrested and have your vehicle impounded for 30 days.
  • Be imprisoned for up to three months if convicted of street racing, or aiding or abetting a street race.
  • Be fined for up to $1,000.
  • Have your driver license revoked.
  • Have your vehicle's insurance canceled or premiums dramatically increased.
  • Have equipment violations issued.

NOTE: Spectators are also subject to the same penalties.

Street Racing Blamed for Death of a Driver

A man died due to speed racing when he lost control of his car.

"We have no idea at this point why he lost control, other than high speed" the report indicates.

The car went onto the sidewalk and hit a bystander, burst into flames after hitting two light poles, a fire hydrant, a water utility box, three or four trees, and a large truck at a nearby storage facility. The county coroner's office identified the dead racer the morning after the accident; the other two racers left the area after the crash, and were charged with felony reckless driving.

The accident occurred in a vehicle the victim had bought just a month before.

"We have individuals buying high performance cars and they don't have experience driving them. They don't know how the car handles," the report stated.

Authorities Impound 60 Cars in a Street Racing Sting

Law enforcement officials towed 60 cars away for 30-day impounds in a sting operation that involved six different law enforcement agencies. Among one of the first impounded vehicles was a 1971 Chevrolet Camaro that was videotaped racing by undercover officers earlier in the night. Authorities said their goal was to stop the illegal racing before someone was killed.

Some parents received phone calls in the middle of the night to retrieve their vehicles or their children. One mother stated "She was supposed to be at a friend's house playing pool" referring to her 17-year-old daughter. Another mother also expressed her disappointment in her 17-year-old son's judgment "He shouldn't have been here watching this," she said. "He was at the wrong place."

In addition to the speed racing, officers said, some participants engage in a dangerous activity known as "sideshows" (driving in circles, drivers spin doughnuts at high speed inside a parking lot and burn rubber).

According to the California Highway Patrol (CHP), if a vehicle is impounded for speed racing, the towing, storage, and possible lien fees can bring the cost up to $1,100.

The Bottom Line

A car is a deadly weapon if used recklessly. If you choose to drive recklessly, you could be jailed, be fatally injured, or take someone's life; perhaps, the life of someone you love, or your own.

Be responsible, drive safely!

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