The COVID-19 Pandemic: Not The Time For Street Racing

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For the past two months, the coronavirus has forced previously noisy and productive streets into sleeping highways. The usual bustling cities of Los Angeles and New York are now no more. The parking lots filled with varying types of automobiles seem like ghosts lots with no one and nothing on them. The rush hour is history. However, where others see blankness, some may see it as an opportunity to race in the streets. They see a speedway.

Lately, police across the United States had reports of street racers turning the clear-out highways into their personal race grounds. In the Southern California area, racers challenged each other at deadly speeds on intersections to do burnouts or car stunts. The large crowds that gather because of these street races are not at all safe in light of COVID-19, police officers say. In addition, some supermarkets leniently allow more than what is required of their customers inside their stores. What’s worst, they sometimes don’t require them to wear gloves or masks. And with these crowds starting to gather in the intersections when they get out of the stores to stop and watch the races, there is a very high likelihood the spread of the infection will occur.

Cities At Risk Due To Street Racing 

The dangers of street racing, particularly in a pandemic like the one we have now, cannot be over-emphasized. It is definitely dangerous with or without the existence of the virus. A report from the Los Angeles Times stated that almost 200 people died due to speed competitions in Los Angeles County alone within the years 2000 and 2017.

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In Sacramento City, police officers said that they had trouble dealing with several street races that caused crowds of a hundred or more in different locations during Easter Sunday and other holidays. In Oakland, sheriffs arrested participants of three separate sideshows in their streets.

It seems that street race enthusiasts are taking advantage of the COVID-19 lockdown to do what they’re not supposed to do in the streets. They’re trying to escape from getting caught, especially in areas where the pandemic situation is more severe, and police and other city officials are busy handling the situation. When cases of street racing increased, members of organizations advocating safe driving and racing went out of their way to personally hit the roads to promote awareness on the dangers of racing in the highways and intersections, especially during these challenging times. Not only does it risk death by accident but also death by virus infection.

Additionally, state and city officials have tightened their protocols concerning social distancing. They have implemented additional violations and penalties to street racers as well as spectators who tolerate and watch these races. In California, several sideshows were reported earlier this month, and one led to a crash involving a police officer’s vehicle. The racers have been detained and have been dealt with according to the rules and regulations of the city in relation to street racing and gathering crowds during the lockdown. The spectators who were caught were also issued a violation ticket. Officials only hope that the growing financial dropdown will be sufficient enough to discourage some of them from watching and joining racing scenes.

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Sadly, police officers often have difficulty handling drivers and spectators during scenes where crowds are relatively larger, as they are very much under-manned. Only a handful of officers break up sideshows that involve over 300 people. Arrests have become more dangerous and challenging.

It is only the officials’ hope and prayer that these street races will no longer persist in the next weeks to come – that speed racers will understand the depth of the problem. They hope that they will cooperate and do their role of keeping the infection from further growing by following the rules placed on their cities.