TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Chances are they’ve roared by you, given you a serious scare or even killed someone you know. Law enforcement is trying to crack down on street racers. Now there’s a statewide effort to strengthen state law and put the brakes on racers and the danger they bring to the road.
Law enforcement and law makers say the number of street racers is zooming, and accelerating the risk to us all.
State Senator Paul Boyer says, “When officers tell me they interview these guys after they catch them. These alleged street racers, and they just tell them that they're not going to stop, they get a high off of doing this, and they're addicted to it.”
Boyer is working to pass a statewide law to fight street racing that strengthens existing law. Part of it would use a tactic that worked well in Phoenix. Get busted and police take the car you love for up to a week---and they would not have to wait for a court to convict you.
Boyer says, “Think about it. In any alleged criminal activity, for example with a gun, an officer can take the gun. In fact, they can hold that piece of property for the entirety of the court hearing as evidence. In this case the evidence is the car.”
It’s easy for innocent drivers to get caught in the danger---including Alberto Gutier, the director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.
“I’ve seen racing on my way home, on Seventh Avenue in rush hour, which all of a sudden two cars are trying to change lanes so they can do some racing. That's insane.”
Arizona ranks number two in street racing according to a website called Insurify. It looked at driving records exposed when drivers applied for insurance. It found in Arizona for every hundred thousand drivers, 28 had been busted for racing.
The national average is nine busts per hundred thousand.
Virginia was at the head of the pack with 32 per hundred thousand.
Night vision video from the Pima County Sheriff's Department shows how racers take over streets and even block roads to interfere with law enforcement. An incident in January led to 48 arrests. So far this year the Sheriff’s Department has worked 70 street racing cases.
Highway Safety Director Gutier says cases like this show how tough enforcement one place shifts street racers to new areas.
He has sent out almost a half million dollars in grants to help departments have more officers on the streets to break up street racing before drivers hit the gas.
“In some cases, by the time these two racers organize themselves, and try to go to a particular intersection, guess who's there, the officers are already there with marked or unmarked units.”
But knowing where to deploy also means law enforcement must infiltrate social networks where racers tell each other where the next race will be and racers are working harder to cover their tracks.