What Will it Take to Stop Street Racing in Tri-Cities?
Is it me or is street racing out of control in the TRI? The sun goes down and the streets fill up with "door slammers" (slang for race cars with doors). It's not a lack of law enforcement – they’re NOT ignoring it, but I do find myself asking the question we all say at times, “Where are the cops when you need them”?
Now, before I begin my rant and open myself up for ridicule, I'd like to share that when I was younger I spent a lot of time working on my car and yes, I was guilty of getting loose on streets and in vacant parking lots – spinning donuts and laying some rubber. Racing? That was dedicated to backroads - out-of-town. Still dangerous and unlawful but at least it wasn't on Main Street.
Popular streets and highways for street racing in Tri-Cities.
These days in the TRI, it seems as though any street or highway is fair game. A few popular examples include Sylvester Street between Road 32 and 52 in Pasco and Highway 240 between the Blue Bridge and Columbia Center Boulevard. It's happened to me multiple times on 240 – suddenly, a group of street racers approaches from behind. They pass and slow to a crawl in front of me - lining up to race. Then, they’re off – in what appear to be 4-cylinder vehicles with modified mufflers. Laughable? Yes! Irresponsible? Absolutely.
How did street racing get so out of hand in Tri-Cities and in America?
It could be a side effect of the 2020 pandemic which emboldened many to ignore traffic laws or maybe it's just a Fast and Furious fantasy. Whatever the case, Washington State lawmakers are tired of hearing about the issue and are attempting to curb the problem by amending the current Washington State street racing law. It will hit the books on January 1, 2024.
What is Washington’s new street racing law, SB 5606?
SB 5606 adds penalties to the current laws that will allow law enforcement to completely seize vehicles from offenders. For example, on the first offense, the vehicle could be impounded with fines and possible jail time. On the second offense (under certain conditions) the offender's vehicle, expensive modifications and all, is forfeited completely and could later be sold by the agency to help pay for programs that deter street racing. “Drifting” and aiding as a “lookout” also carry penalties. You can read SB 5606 here.
Is SB 5606 tough enough?
SB 5606 is a good start and will likely decrease the problem but most agree it doesn't go far enough. Some major metropolitan areas are proposing one-strike-your-out ordinances. For example, the City of Chicago has been plagued with street racers for years and yes, they can impound vehicles and levy tough fines but until penalties have a long-term effect on offenders they feel the problem will continue. One Chicago official recently raised eyebrows by suggesting a fee of up to $20,000 to get impounded street racing vehicles released.
Where can someone with the need for speed legally race in Tri-Cities?
I’m good with and support anyone who wants to modify their vehicle – in fact, I’m impressed with some of the machines I see roaming the streets of the TRI. They’ve spent a lot of time and money on their vehicles – cool, right? But, when that machine becomes a two-ton out-of-control missile doing 80 mph+ in a populated public 35 mph zone – that’s over the line – and offenders should be punished. End rant. **Tri-City Raceway offers those who feel the need for speed a chance to race every month for a fee of $30. That’s a lot cheaper than thousands of dollars in fines or worse – ending up in jail for injuring or killing someone.
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