Save Our Teen Drivers

Advocating for driver's education changes. Educating the public on the problem. Finding a solution that saves lives.

38% of teens street race, 97% think it is dangerous.

Posted by lapearce on July 16, 2009

Street racing crash that killed two teens

Street racing crash that killed two teens

Sometimes there are crashes that really stick with us. One of them for me is a street racing crash that happened in 2006. Two 18-year-old boys in fast cars with female passengers were racing at high speed down a city street at night.

The cars crested a hill making the new BMW M3 get light. When the weight settled back down the car went into a spin. It hit a wall on the side of the road with so much speed, that it flipped over and landed 30 feet away. The driver and one of the passengers were killed, the other passenger was badly injured. The driver’s parents were later sued by the surviving girl’s family and the driver of the other car was driving with a suspended license because of five tickets.

Tragedies like this happen all the time. They happen because teens think bad things won’t happen to them. That’s the only way I can explain the disconnect between nearly 100 percent of teens thinking street racing is dangerous, but nearly 40 percent doing it. They think that how they are doing it is safer than anyone else, because of xy&z. But it’s not kids, it’s not.

Movies and video games that glorify street racing is one part of the problem. Street racing deaths increased after the Fast and Furious movies came out. The video game Need For Speed where kids can customize and race their cars against others on the street sold 5.3 million copies last year alone. Another problem is the lack of legal drag strips for teens to use instead of the open road. The biggest cause, however, is a lack of maturity, experience and the inability to recognize risk. Teens are prewired to do things like this. In a lot of ways, they can’t help it.

Street racing has been portrayed as cool in movies for decades

Street racing has been portrayed as cool in movies for decades. Here "Grease Lighting" races in the film Grease.

What is the answer to the problem? I think a lot of it is in communication. Only 57 percent of teens said they would ask the driver to stop if he/she was street racing. Talk to your new drivers about the risks, and tell them if they EVER feel the driver is doing something dangerous to not be afraid to ask them to stop. Being labled a wuss is better than being dead. Not being a passenger of a teen driver is also a good way to reduce the chances of street racing too. A lot of times the new driver is trying to show off to passengers, which is why (I feel) street racing is more likely to happen with passengers.

As for the street racing component, pressing the dangers is important, but I also think it is vital to give teens another outlet. Take them to the drag strip, sign them up for autocrosses. It  gets the speed out of their system. Some people worry that it will make them more likely to be dangerous on the road, but in my experience, it takes away the craving for speed and helps expose the danger of the activities on the open road.

Street racing will never go away. For as long as there have been cars there have been street races. I heard a great old tune the other day called “My Hot Rod Lincoln” written by Charlie Ryan in 1955. The last line is:

They arrested me and they put me in jail

and called my pappy to throw my bail

And he said, “Son, you’re gunna’ drive me to drinkin’

If you don’t stop drivin’ that Hot Rod Lincoln!”

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