Consequences of Street Racing Accidents

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Street racing is a practice of getting together to race vehicles, which have often been modified in order to be faster and flashier than regular cars. Street racing is illegal in every state, although the type of laws and the penalties associated with street racing do differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Aside from being illegal, one of the major consequences of street racing are severe accidents. 

Startling Street Racing Statistics

Street racing is so common in certain areas of Texas, California and Florida that police have actually referred to the problem as an "epidemic."  In fact, one Florida sheriff's department located in Orange County indicates that the average Saturday evening brings as many as 25 to 50 complaints about street racing in the area. The statistics on street racing on a national level are no less troubling, with the National Highway Traffic Safety administration reporting approximately 804 street-racing related deaths occurring between '01 and '06. Sadly, this amounts to around 50 deaths per thousand attendees at a street race. The vast majority of those who are killed are between the ages of 15 and 29, and while some of those who are killed are the people participating in a street race, innocent bystanders who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time could also be killed as well. This is especially true because a car accident when a vehicle is going faster than 65 miles per hour is about 6 times more likely to result in a fatality.  

Consequences of Street Racing

The consequences of street racing can vary depending on where you live. In some areas, especially those with larger populations who engage in street racing, specific laws have been passed that directly address races. In other jurisdictions, the consequences come from other general driving laws. The possible laws you might be punished under if you are involved with street racing include those listed below:

  • In some parts of California, like San Diego, there are specific anti-street racing laws. Violations of anti-street racing laws may include the impounding of cars that are used in the races (sometimes, impounded cars are actually destroyed). Other possible consequences for the drivers involved include the automatic loss of a driver's license and criminal sanctions that might include large fines and jail time. 
  • Some of the anti-street racing laws that have passed make it illegal to even attend street races. These individuals can be arrested and charged with misdemeanor criminal charges
  • If someone is killed in a street race, then you can expect charges related to that death. This might include manslaughter or negligent homicide charges, depending on the state and the situation. These charges can result in years of jail time. 
  • Reckless driving and reckless endangerment charges are common as a result of speed racing. 

These sanctions are, in many cases, real criminal sanctions, not just citations like a speeding ticket. This means that they come up with the accompanying jail time and permanent criminal record that goes along with criminal charges. 

Street Races and Car Accident Claims

If you damage your own vehicle or you harm yourself while involved in street racing, you probably aren't going to want to make a claim with your car insurance company to try to recover money for the damages. If you did try, your policy would probably exclude coverage based on your actions. 

If you hurt or kill an innocent bystander as a result of your street racing actions (as has happened many times in the past), then in addition to the criminal sanctions that you face, you can expect to face a civil lawsuit as well. This lawsuit may be brought by a person if you cause him/her injury or by the family members of a deceased victim if you actually kill someone while street racing. The damages you can expect to pay for the person you harm as a result of your street racing accident include the following:

  • All medical bills and costs for that person's injury.
  • Lost wages/income resulting from the injury that you cause to the individual who was killed, hurt, or disabled.
  • Damages for pain and suffering.
  • Damages for emotional distress.
  • Wrongful death damages, if applicable.
  • Damages for loss of companionship.
  • Punitive damages, in some cases. 

The costs of a street racing accident can add up to thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in civil damages on top of the criminal sanctions faced. 

If You Are the Victim?

If you are the innocent victim of a street racing accident and not the person who was engaged in the racing, then you should make sure you get detailed information at the scene of the accident from any witnesses, preferably those who were not involved in the race and who can tell you honestly what occurred and back up your story. Get the police report, including information about whether an arrest was made. Get medical attention immediately and keep careful track of all of the costs associated with your injuries. Photographs from the scene of the accident and the street race, as well as photos of your injury, should all go a long way towards helping you make a claim. Fault will be pretty clear in a street racing case if you got caught up as an innocent driver on the road, and you should not have to bear the burden of any financial loss that resulted from the illegal racing activity.