Brad Pistotnik Law
Abogado El Toro

How Dangerous is Drag Racing?

What liability do drivers who drag race have when they cause injuries or fatalities? A number of drivers feel the need for speed behind the wheel and some drivers engage in street racing as a form of entertainment. Street racing is illegal in Kansas and drivers who engage in the "sport" can face criminal penalties as well as civil liabilities for any property damage, personal injuries, or wrongful deaths they cause in a car crash. Street racing is a misdemeanor offense in Kansas and those who are caught may also face charges of reckless driving or manslaughter if someone is killed. Many insurance companies are now placing drop down or step down provisions in the policies to only provide coverage for state minimum limits of $25,000.00 per person and $50,000.00 per accident when drag racing even if the policy normally had a $100,000.00 per person limit.

Street racing can take several forms. It can be organized in advance or spontaneous. While romanticized in movies , it is an activity that poses a serious threat to the safety of the race participants, pedestrians, and other motorists. While the NHTSA does not routinely track street racing data, police reports indicated a significant increase in the number of fatalities caused by street racing following the release of "Fast and Furious" in 2001. Prior to theatrical release, there were 72 street racing fatalities in 2000. This increased to 135 after the movie was in theaters. This indicates a potential link between people wanting real life to imitate pop culture fiction.

While most street races are relatively short, they can cause long-term consequences when a car crash happens. Injuries can include broken bones, lacerations, nerve damage, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), amputation, and other types of injuries common to high-speed automobile accidents.

Data from the National Hot Rod Association shows that 49 people per 1,000 street racers are injured in illegal street races each year. Street races are most common in Louisiana and Nevada, but they can and do occur in every state including Kansas. Based on social media posts, it is estimated that there are 1.4 street racing incidents per 100,000 residents in Kansas that are posted and boasted upon on Instagram. It is even more common in Oklahoma where there are 11 posts per 100,000 residents. When an accident occurs, these posts can be used as evidence when pursuing a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the driver and those who may have organized the race.

Roughly 70% of street races occur between 4pm and 4am. Decreased traffic makes these times of day more popular for racing. However, it doesn't make them any less dangerous. Approximately half of races occur on highways while the remaining half takes place on commercial streets. In Kansas, most races occur in the Southwestern corner of the state around Coffeyville and Independence. Motorists who engage in street races can cause a car crash, strike pedestrians, or lose control over their vehicle and cause damage to fences, signs, buildings, and parked cars.

Brad Pistotnik Law represents clients in Lawrence, Wichita, Garden City, Liberal, Dodge City, Colby, Hays, Coffeyville,Topeka, and other cities in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Illinois that have been injured in a street racing car crash. Drivers who engage in illegal street races can be found liable for negligence from their actions and negligence simply by breaking the law. They can also be found liable for the emotional distress that results from an injury-causing car crash. Motorists and pedestrians who are injured by street racers can pursue compensation from racers and race organizers for personal injuries, medical expenses, property damage, and wrongful deaths.

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