The Ever-Present Dangers of Illegal Street Racing
As it turns out, going really, really fast is one of the most popular and most deadly rushes of adrenaline out there. Pop culture chase scenes and blockbuster movies have only exacerbated this itch, as thousands of motorists engage in illegal street and drag races all over the U.S. each year. These impromptu speed trials inevitably result in accidents, injuries, and deaths.
Anyone who has been affected by the dangers of street racing, either in a vehicle or as a bystander, is encouraged to seek both medical and legal help (in order). At Van Law Firm, we are always accepting new street racing cases, so that the overt recklessness of racers does not go unpunished.
By the Numbers
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the nation’s leading authority on illegal racing– according to their data, there were over 130 racing-related deaths in just one year alone (2001). That may not seem like a lot, but those deaths were expressly caused by racing, not just standard vehicle accidents. When you also consider the fact that vehicle crashes are the leading overall cause of death for those aged between 16 and 20 years old, you can see just how much of a risk illegal racing actually is.
Furthermore, anyone convicted of street racing is likely to be hit with some more numbers that aren’t very desirable, such as: license revocation for multiple years, thousands in fines and insurance rates, and months of probation. Keep in mind, these are all separate from the biggest number you’re likely to face, that being a hefty settlement demand in a personal injury suit. The only thing to remember about street racing is not to partake.
Street Racing Crashes: Most Common Causes
Given that the very nature of a race is to see who is the fastest, speeding is by far the most common cause of racing accidents across the country. In addition, most of these races take place on back roads and the like to avoid police attention, so the violations usually cite speeds that are 20 to 30 mph over the speed limit, or more.
It’s not hard to understand that higher speeds make a car more difficult to control and stop effectively, and so it should come as no surprise that increasing speed also increases the chances of an accident.
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Oftentimes, when we are under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or prescription medication, we tend to think and act differently than we would sober. A race can come to fruition very quickly when your inhibitions are lowered, and so driver impairment is also commonly cited in street racing accidents.
Hazardous Weather and Road Conditions
Any moisture on the road, either from rain, sleet, or snow, will impact all drivers equally–some will adhere to practical defensive driving, and others will not. If someone has it already in their mind that they are going to start or participate in a street race, then most likely a “small amount” of rain or ice will not be enough to dissuade them. Racing in adverse weather conditions only increases the risk as well as magnitude of the potential damage, as a sliding car has much more force than one with traction.
Most of the time, competition will prevail with regards to street races. What this means is that drivers are likely to ignore standard traffic procedures when engaged in a race, including stop signs, traffic lights, and lane mergers. A good percentage of street race accidents arise when law-abiding motorists are struck at high speeds in intersections, across lanes, etc.
Emotion and Road Rage
For some reason, we become different people when we get into our cars; being together on the road usually makes us angry and not much else. Road rage incidents usually take on a snowball effect, where one action triggers more and more adverse reactions. It’s not uncommon for a simple honk to turn into a full-fledged high-stakes chase.
Common Types of Injuries
Race accident injuries are generally the same as any auto accident, just with a tendency to be more severe in nature. The most common ailments include:
- Cuts, burns, and lacerations
- Broken bones
- Internal damage and bleeding
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Back, neck, and spine injuries
Is There a Difference Between Street and Drag Racing?
The terms “street racing” and “drag racing” tend to be used interchangeably, but it’s important to note that “drag racing” simply refers to a style of racing, whereas “street racing” is a general term for all illegal racing. A drag race is where two cars are lined up at the same starting point and given a cue to go, with the finish line usually placed a quarter mile (or so) away. They are popular on the street because they can be arranged or dispersed very quickly, and it allows drivers to just focus on going fast in a straight line.
There are numerous professional organizations around the country that sanction and put on legal drag racing, such as the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). So, that means that a drag race is not always illegal, but if it takes place on the street and not at a track, it is.
Legal Liability of Street Racing: Driver vs. Passenger/ Passerby?
Legally, any individual who participates in or aids in the formation of a street race on highways, public streets, or private property can be cited and/or held liable for accident damages. That includes spectators and car passengers, so don’t be fooled into thinking you’re exempt just because you weren’t behind the wheel.
Conversely, if, for whatever reason, you find yourself in the middle of a street race either as a bystander or on the road, you should seek legal help immediately to ensure your innocence. Of course, if you were injured by a street racer, you should also seek an attorney’s help to recoup damages.
Contact Experienced Street Racing Accident Attorneys
If you’re struggling to pick up the pieces of your life after being injured in an accident by a street racer, seek medical attention to address immediate concerns before giving Van Law Firm a call. Our staff of award-winning street racing accident attorneys will get to the bottom of the incident and bring the liable parties to justice. Call (725) 900-9000 to learn more about all the ways VLF can help.
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