Houston – Police across the country are looking for ways to crack down on illegal drag racing.
Street races usually happen randomly between drivers on streets or interstates, but police say they can result in others joining in and blocking off intersections while racing, drifting, and doing donuts or other stunts. They can also put traffic on hold for hours, and the drivers can be dangerous to approach.
Lili Trujillo is one of thousands suffering loss caused by illegal street racing and takeovers.
“Back in December of 2017, my daughter Valentina was killed due to a young man that was giving her a ride home and engaged in an impromptu street race” Trujillo said.
Wyatt Martin is the Houston Police Department Assistant Chief. He says these illegal street races are becoming more common.
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“There is not a day that goes by, where it seems like you don’t hear about a young person being seriously hurt or even killed in one of these events” Martin said.
Seven states report giving more than 50% more street racing violations in 2021 than in recent years.
Just two weeks ago, a street race in Austin, Texas included fireworks being aimed at police.
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The Harris Country District Attorney says it sparked change.
“It got lawmakers attention who recently, in just sessions past voted to upgrade racing into a criminal offense” Kim Ogg said.
Now, some states say they’re cracking down on this. Texas and California have formed street racing and takeover task forces that focus on seizing these vehicles. Florida now allows law enforcement to arrest and prosecute street racers for related videos posted online. New York, and Washington have also announced plans for noise identifying cameras and harsher punishment for street racers.
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“Everybody is doing something about it. And, I believe that everybody is going to start copying everybody else’s bills to save lives” Trujillo said.
For now, police are offering tips on what to do if you’re caught behind a street race or a takeover.
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“The participants will violently confront other drivers who they feel are trying to interrupt their activities. Stay in your car, roll up the windows and lock the door, call 9-1-1 and let us know what’s going on” Martin said.
Police say they want to encourage racers to have fun, legally. And hope the actions of illegal racers don’t tarnish activities for legal car club members.