A newly obtained federal grant combined with a recently signed bill has redoubled the state’s efforts to crack down on reckless driving behaviors like sideshows, takeovers and street racing.
The California Highway Patrol recently received the $1.5 million grant from the Sideshow, Takeover, Racing, Education, and Enforcement Taskforce (STREET), which will aid in efforts to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries attributed to illegal sideshows, takeovers and street racing. . It also draws on the $5.5 million from the 2022-23 state budget for the CHP to implement the campaign to eliminate street racing and sideshows.
Over the past two years, California has seen a significant increase in the number of incidents related to unsafe driving behavior, including motorists exceeding 100 mph on state highways, illicit street racing and side-show activity , and speed-related accidents.
In 2019-20, speeding was a factor in about 40% of all fatal and injury crashes in California. During the years 2020-2021, preliminary data indicates that the number of people killed in accidents caused by reckless driving increased by 21% compared to the previous period. The CHP continues to receive a high number of reports of sideshows and street racing and the negative consequences associated with such negligent exploits.
“Reckless driving behavior poses a significant threat to anyone using California’s roads,” said CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray. “The STREET grant will provide a targeted education and enforcement campaign, targeting aggressive driving behaviors, street racing and show activities.”
On October 26, the Merced Police Department was investigating an alleged street racing incident that resulted in the death of a 67-year-old woman. The victim, Frances Palm, was driving her Nissan Altima n Buena Vista Drive crossing M Street when she was struck by a 2017 Chevrolet Camaro. Video surveillance of the area showed the Chevrolet and a racing BMW just prior to the crash .
In early September, more than 200 vehicles came out for an illegal sideshow at the former Crows Landing Naval Air Station, which was dismantled by the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department with the help of the department’s helicopter.
A driver fled in a Mustang and took Highway 33 and back roads passing other vehicles at speeds of around 110 miles per hour. The Mustang was heading towards Turlock and the driver was ignoring all stop signs on rural roads.
The Sheriff’s Department was concerned that the driver could injure others in an accident and so the decision was made to deploy a spiked band to slow him down. The spike strip was installed on West Main Street, just east of Tegner Avenue in Turlock.
The stud strips were successful and blew out three of the vehicle’s tires. He slowed the car down to about 10 miles per hour. The Mustang driver collided with another vehicle at the intersection of West Main Street and Highway 99 on the ramp.
When the vehicle came to a stop, the driver fled on foot and two occupants remained inside the vehicle. However, the driver did not get very far before being apprehended by law enforcement.
The Mustang driver has been identified as Sergio Valencia, 24, of Merced. He was arrested on suspicion of reckless driving, participating in speed contests and hit and run with property damage.
To address the issue of street racing and other reckless driving, from January 1, 2021 to September 30, 2022, the CHP conducted enhanced speed enforcement operations on national roads which have seen an increase in speed-related issues. During this period, the CHP issued 40,593 citations to motorists exceeding 100 mph. The CHP has also worked with allied law enforcement agencies, leading to the creation of street racing and sideshow task forces and social media campaigns displaying the dangers associated with high speed, aggressive driving behavior and street racing.
The STREET grant allows for a comparable campaign beginning this month through September 30, 2023. Funding for the STREET program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
As a further deterrent, Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed Assembly Bill 2000 (Gabriel) into law, making it illegal for a person to participate and/or engage in a motor vehicle speed contest or in a speed display in an off-street parking lot. The measure comes into force on January 1, 2023.
Governor Gavin Newsom has signed Assembly Bill (AB) 2000, which will ban street racing and side shows in state parking lots. The bipartisan measure was drafted by Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel (D – Woodland Hills).
“Far too often, street racing and illegal side shows devastate families, injure innocent bystanders and shorten the lives of young people,” Gabriel said. “I am grateful for Governor Newsom’s leadership in cracking down on this dangerous activity and signing off on this common sense measure that will save lives across our state.”
“AB 2000 will help us save lives and prevent new crashes and drivers from going to jail for manslaughter,” said Lili Trujillo, founder and executive director of Street Racing Kills, a nonprofit created in 2014 after Trujillo’s 16-year-old daughter. , Valentina, was killed in a street racing incident. “A car park speed show is all too common now and people are getting injured and killed, AB 2000 is definitely a great tool to help us save lives.”
“There are countless stories every week across California about illegal street racing and dangerous sideshows closing streets, causing crashes, damaging neighborhoods and putting lives at risk,” the member said. ‘Assembly Vince Fong (R – Kern County), co-author of the measure. “They are unpredictable, destructive and can result in senseless deaths that devastate families. AB 2000 is an important and necessary step in cracking down on illegal side shows to make our communities safer.
Statewide law enforcement groups have identified driver’s license suspensions as an effective tool in deterring illegal street racing activity. Expanding on AB 3, which was enacted last year, AB 2000 allows the courts to issue a driver’s license suspension for exhibiting the speed of a motor vehicle during a secondary show se taking place in a parking lot – an area currently not covered by law – and thus helps to further deter individuals from engaging in these dangerous activities.