SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — California is seeing a significant increase in illegal sideshows and street racing across the state.
The commissioner of the California Highway Patrol and other state leaders on Tuesday urged drivers to stop the illegal activity.
“It was a really hard time for my family,” said Heather Dubinetskiy.
Standing in front of a crumpled car outside the State Capitol, Dubinetskiy described the moment she almost lost her son at a sideshow.
“My son was hit and taken under the car,” Dubinetskiy said. “These sideshows are becoming every weekend plan for young people.”
Her son is one of the many who have been injured in illegal sideshows recently. CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray said street racing and sideshows have resulted in 264 crashes statewide in the past five years. Of those crashes, 30 have been fatal and 124 have resulted in serious injuries.
Other grieving parents like Lori Argumedo, whose niece was killed by a street racer, have a message for drivers.
“There are safe and legal environments where you can race. Take it to the track where you don’t have to worry about killing innocent people,” Argumedo said
“We all must do better to eradicate the injuries and the deaths, particularly, when we know these are preventable,” Ray said.
According to the CHP, the number of sideshow and street racing incidents has quadrupled since 2015.
“When the pandemic occurred and the roadways were kind of emptied, that created an environment that allowed this to skyrocket,” said Assemblyman Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield.
Fong wrote legislation, Assembly Bill 3, that would give judges the power to suspend licenses of those who take part in exhibitions of speed, such as tire burnouts, stunts, engine revving and other moves that lead to street racing.
“To give law enforcement authorities the tools to save lives, simple as that,” Fong said.
The law goes into effect in 2025 in order to give the Department of Motor Vehicles time to update its systems.
But the CHP commissioner said her agency isn’t waiting to curb illegal activity since they received new grants.
“Our focus is not going to remain unchanged. It’s going to be on identifying where these things are happening and making sure we use resources available to go out there and make a difference,” Ray said.