Illegal drag racing became significantly more popular during the coronavirus pandemic, causing several states to implement new laws, according to The Associated Press.
Groups of drag racers drive at high speeds, tear down streets and perform stunts on roads they’ve blocked off to avoid police, according to AP. Interest in the street racing has increased in part due to TV shows and movies that glorify the activity, but pandemic shutdowns have cleared normally busy roads as people work from home, according to AP. (RELATED: Biden COVID-19 Advisor Admits Spring Lockdowns Went Too Far, Violated Public Trust)
Illegal drag racing has exploded in popularity amid the coronavirus pandemic, with fewer commuters on U.S. highways and city streets. People with a passion for fast cars also have had more time to modify them and show them off. https://t.co/S8beesJkMb
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 13, 2021
“With COVID, when we were separated from people, I think people sort of bonded in their interest groups,” Tami Eggleston, a sports psychologist and legal drag racer, told AP. “So that need to want to socialize and be around other people brought the racers out.”
However, the sport is dangerous and people have been killed. Some states are implementing new laws to fight the illegal activity.
Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill named after a woman who was hit head-on and killed by a street racer. The bill mandates a minimum of 10 days in jail for any drag racing conviction. In addition, people caught for a third time within five years must forfeit their cars, according to AP.
Authorities in New York City received over 1,000 complaints about street racers in a six-month period, which is reportedly five times the amount they received during the same period in 2019. Democratic New York Sen. Brad Hoylman proposed legislation that would allow New York City to use speed cameras overnight in areas notorious for street racing, AP reported.
“Illegal street racing puts lives at risk and keeps us up at night,” Hoylman told AP. “While there’s been less traffic during the pandemic, some drivers have used this as an opportunity to treat our streets like a NASCAR speedway.”
Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill authorizing state troopers to respond to drag racing events in cities, The AP reported.
The Arizona state Senate also passed a bill that mandates harsher penalties for drag racers, AP reported.