It often happens in summer, and it’s usually associated with male youths — the lure of the open road, the sense of freedom, the increased testosterone, and the macho mine-is-faster-than-yours competition.
But it’s not cool. Drag racing, or street racing, has become a too-frequent fatal occurrence in this country, and we need to do something about it.
In January 2006, a Pakistani cab driver was struck and killed by two 18-year-old private-school classmates racing their parents’ Mercedes-Benzes up Mount Pleasant Road in Toronto. The boys were charged with criminal negligence causing death, and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death.
Four months later, a couple celebrating their 17th wedding anniversary were killed instantly when their car was hit by a street racer careening up Yonge Street in York region. A 19-year-old man has been charged with two counts of dangerous driving causing death, and criminal negligence causing death.
Finally, just last month, Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant stated that any cars found to have been adapted for street racing can will be confiscated, even if no charges have been laid, and no race has occurred. All it takes is one tip and police have the authority to seize and destroy these vehicles.
This statement came two days on the heels of yet another street-racing fatality, when a truck driver was killed on Highway 400. Three young men, all aged 19 and 20, have been charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, criminal negligence causing death, and criminal negligence causing death by street racing.
Two of these boys are the first in Ontario to face a criminal charge of street racing — and with that, the possibility of life in prison.
The problem is worsening, and action is being taken. But is it enough? Obviously not.
Seventeen police forces and the Ministry of Transportation launched Project ERASE (Eliminate Racing Activity on Streets Everywhere) at the beginning of May. But even still, we’ve seen fatalities and serious injuries caused by street racing in the past two months.
We need to educate our youths to the tragic implications of speed racing — and that education begins at home. Parents need to talk to their children about the dangers of driving — even at acceptable speeds — and more importantly, to impress upon them driving a car is a responsibility, and not a game.
What do they do in other countries to combat this problem? In the U.K. there are many surveillance cameras along the roads, and this does have a positive effect on curtailing speed demons. While this raises some privacy issues, it may be that Canadians should consider weighing against these, the more devastating damage of street racing.
Many people are trying to come up with answers for this prevailing problem. If you’ve got an idea, e-mail me at email@example.com. Maybe together we can come up with some workable solutions.