Drag Racing Crashes
Car racing can be dangerous, even on a controlled and secure race track
Is it any small wonder that drag racing is illegal to do it on a public street? Drivers who choose the risky “sport” of racing can easily lose control of their vehicles, causing accidents that produce injuries and death.
If you were in a car crash caused by someone speeding or racing, our Eastern Kentucky attorneys work hard to protect your legal rights and pursue the financial compensation you deserve from reckless street racers and their insurance companies.
According to Kentucky Statute 189.505, “No person shall engage upon any street or highway in motor vehicle racing, drag racing, or any other form of competition involving motor vehicles.”
A couple of facts about street racing and their participants:
- The great majority of them are males between the ages of 15 and 23.
- Nearly 60 percent of street drag-racing fatalities are between the ages of 15 and 30.
When you are injured in a crash – or a beloved family member is killed – by someone driving a car in an unlawful street race in which you were not participating, you can file a claim against the driver’s insurer (and possibly others) based on willful negligence. All drivers have a legal duty to not drive in a manner that endangers others. Obviously, driving recklessly breaches that duty and exposes them to liability to pay very high monetary damages to you and your family.
How Dangerous is Drag Racing?
Drag racing is dangerous to drivers, spectators, and innocent parties who may just be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Drivers who participate in street or highway races can cause a car crash, strike pedestrians, or lose control over their vehicle and cause damage to fences, signs, buildings, and parked cars.
When a crash occurs, injuries can include:
- Broken bones
- Nerve damage
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Brain and spinal cord injuries
According to Stop Street Racing, data from the National Hot Rod Association shows that 49 people per 1,000 street racers are injured in illegal street races each year.
What Happens if You Are Caught Drag Racing?
If you are caught drag racing, the punishments are severe in Kentucky. You can be arrested and have your car impounded or crushed. Your driver’s license can be revoked, and your car insurance may be cancelled or the rates dramatically increased.
If you cause a crash, you will not be covered by your insurance policy and will be responsible for all damages. This means you may be found liable for hundreds of thousands of dollars in civil damages owed the victims or their survivors through lawsuits for property damage, personal injury, or wrongful death.
Drivers convicted of unlawful racing are fined up to $100, and four points are assessed against the driver’s license for “reckless driving.” But if they hurt or kill someone while street racing, street racers’ intentional disregard for others’ safety can produce serious criminal charges.
In addition, in some situations, “spectators” found present for the purpose of viewing the race can also face the same criminal consequences as the drivers who were caught illegally drag racing. And anyone found to have assisted with preparations or helped others to participate in a speed contest can be cited as well. If convicted of street racing or aiding and abetting a street race, they can also face imprisonment and fines.
What is the Charge for Drag Racing?
In Kentucky, the charge for drag racing is a class B misdemeanor. If you are convicted of racing on the highway, you will be faced with a possible sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of $2,000. You will have a criminal record that stays with you forever and may negatively affect your prospects for education, career, housing, and social life.
The charges may be elevated to a felony traffic violation if additional factors are present, such as:
- Driving while impaired
- Causing serious bodily injury to another person
- Causing serious property damage
- Injuring a police officer.
Street Racing Can’t be Mistaken for Simple Negligence
While getting distracted by a conversation with a passenger is bad and can put the safety of others at risk, it is neither intentional nor extremely reckless; but street racing is so obviously risky and intentional that it is often viewed as grossly negligent. If a driver is street racing on a public Kentucky road, he or she is completely ignoring the safety of others. Legally speaking, this is an extremely important distinction to make, because victims of gross negligence may seek punitive damages.
Often referred to as exemplary damages, punitive damages are a form of compensation that is designed to punish the reckless actions of a grossly negligent party, above the usual damages the defendant would owe. Victims of street-racing accidents are still entitled to seek the full extent of available compensatory damages, but substantial punitive damages can be awarded on top of compensatory damages. Cases involving punitive damages are especially complex and will always require professional legal assistance.
Street racing (usually drag racing, where two drivers start at a red light and then “burn rubber” for a mile or more and often through intersections) comes in two forms:
- Spontaneous street races involve two cars pulling up next to each other at a stoplight. After communicating intent (usually gunning their engines while the light is still red), the vehicles immediately begin to race each other when the light turns green. Though meant to be spontaneous and fun, this endangers anyone who happens to be in proximity, especially drivers who enter an intersection seconds before the speeding cars hit it. Inexperienced drivers who speed are also likely to “wipe out” and run into buildings, homes, other property … or innocent bystanders.
- Organized drag races are fueled by social media and popular culture to the point that structured rings are popping up all over the U.S., including in Kentucky. Their secretly organized events involve numerous vehicles, multiple races, many race courses, and “lookouts” as far as a mile away who watch for law enforcement. Not long ago, almost 20 drivers and fellow participants were busted for street racing in Louisville — all but one of them under 21.
Willfully Reckless Street Racers Deserve Their Punishment
If you have been hurt or a loved one has been injured or killed in a traffic accident where illegal street racing may have been involved, the experienced legal team at Eastern Kentucky’s Billy Johnson Law Firm can help. We are committed to seeking full financial recovery for those who have been hurt by drivers who choose to ignore the law and risk lives by racing in our community’s streets and highways. In addition to paying for their crimes when street racers injure or kill Kentucky citizens, they also deserve to pay for the injuries, damages and losses their willful negligence causes their victims. Contact us toll free at (606) 437-4488 or fill out our online form to arrange a free consultation. If we don’t collect, you don’t pay.
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