When it comes to traffic violations in New York, illegal street racing poses one of the biggest threats to motorists and pedestrians around the city.
Street racing is a dangerous and reckless activity. The high speeds and lack of safety elements associated with street racing can lead to accidents, property damage, personal injuries, and even death. And in New York City, streets are densely populated, which further magnifies the dangers of these illegal events.
Unsanctioned street racing is a criminal offense under New York state law. Whenever vehicles fail to follow the rules of the road, the consequences can be fatal.
According to figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding killed nearly 10,000 people across the country in 2017.
Each year, excess speed violations account for upwards of 30% of all traffic fatalities in New York State. As such, lawmakers have designed strict laws to enforce vehicle speeds and encourage motorists to engage in safe driving.
In 2021, New York City officials received more than 1,000 complaints for illegal racing across all boroughs.
Consequences of Illegal Racing Crashes
Naturally, street racers drive at excessive speeds and disregard traffic laws, which increases the likelihood of a crash.
Racing crashes can be devastating, causing severe injuries and fatalities to racers and the bystanders who often attend these events and congregate in groups.
Common accidents include:
- T-bone crashes
- Front-end collisions
- Rollover accidents
- Hit and runs
- Pedestrian injuries
For drivers, the lack of safety equipment on the vehicles used in street racing can exacerbate the severity of injuries during a crash. Generally, sanctioned race cars are equipped with specialized safety elements to reduce injuries, and drivers wear protective gear, including helmets.
Additionally, legal car racing is a recognized sport, conducted on dedicated tracks. In most cases, illegal street racers drive without protection and make use of public roadways, which only adds to the overall danger.
Public Safety Concerns
Street racing poses a significant risk to the public safety of New Yorkers.
Racing on public roadways in NYC is known to cause congestion and traffic delays, which puts other motorists and pedestrians at risk. Often, organizers of illegal races block off access to roads, making it difficult for cars and emergency vehicles to reach their destinations.
Other times, the loud noises and reckless activities associated with these races can become a nuisance to the local community.
According to figures, the areas most affected by street racing in NYC include:
- Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
- Rego Park, Queens
- Richmond Hill, Queens
- Clearview, Queens
- Belmont, The Bronx
Depending on the street race, these events can sometimes attract large groups of bystanders and onlookers. Pedestrians often pay the price when cars become involved in a crash or collision. These bystanders can sustain severe personal injuries and, in some cases, are even killed.
Under New York law, street race participation is considered to be a Class A misdemeanor. It can result in steep administrative fines, a tarnished driving record, license revocation, and even jail time.
First-time illegal street racing convictions can carry a 30-day jail sentence and fines of up to $525. A second conviction can include a six-month jail term and up to $750 in fines.
It’s important to also note that speeding violations in New York come with fines, and racers can expect to pay the maximum penalties that correspond to their vehicle’s speed, in addition to the fines associated with street racing.
Additionally, drivers face severe felony charges whenever someone is injured or killed due to reckless actions. Some charges associated with illegal racing include vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving.
The consequences of illegal street racing in NYC extend further than legal and financial. Street racing carries significant risk for both the drivers of these vehicles and other motorists and bystanders that, in worst cases, can even be fatal.
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