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Street racing becomes dangerous pastime in some NOLA neighborhoods
NEW ORLEANS — Google the term "street racing" and one of the first definitions to appear refers to the practice as a typically, "unsanctioned and illegal form of auto racing that occurs on a public road."
But according to a recent report by WWL-TV, residents of certain New Orleans area neighborhoods where street racing has become a popular pastime use more vivid language to describe the practice.
Kendyl Riesz told WWL-TV reporters, "It's very loud."
Greg Martinez, similarly said, "I think it's very reckless."
Many residents are not pleased with the practice, as it often involves mobs of people suddenly appearing along the sides of roads to watch drivers do donuts and slide around while burning rubber along the streets of their neighborhood.
According to WWL-TV, a neighbor shot cellphone video of one such event nearly two weeks ago, near the corner of St. Bernard Avenue and North Rampart Street.
The video revealed people hanging out of cars, spinning in circles and screeching tires in a cloud of smoke.
“I’ve seen tags as far away as Oklahoma and Texas to meet up at a pre-determined time, usually at dark about 6 o’clock to 6:30 and from the last incident, they were here for about two hours,” a man who did not want to give his name said.
Neighbors say during one recent event, a driver took off after hitting some parked cars.
“A car headed down St. Bernard, clipped a car and proceeded to hit and run,” one told reporters.
Other neighbors say the cars shows seem to come and go just about every weekend, usually on Sunday nights.
“Hanging out of the trunks, the pickup beds and even the windows,” Martinez said. “I think it’s very reckless.”
“A lot of people will join in when they’re doing the donuts and jump out,” Riesz added. “One day somebody’s going to get hit and it’s very loud, too.”
Fears of what kinds of tragedies can unfold during street racing events are not unfounded.
Just this week in Texas, local news outlets reported that a mother is grieving the loss of two of her children due to an illegal street race that killed the two boys and a third pedestrian.
Harris County deputies said it all started Sunday (Feb. 21) after a car meet-up on the Northwest Freeway near West Little York Road.
Investigators explained that once the meet-up ended, attendees were part of a crowd that formed during the deadly street-racing incident.
The mother of the deceased 16-year-old and 14-year-old, said, “It’s so senseless. It’s so senseless.”
In New Orleans, officials want to protect the public from experiencing similar tragedies, so they're hoping to implement strategies that will discourage street racing.
New Orleans State Representative Royce Duplessis says the city needs to do more to prevent the illegal stunts.
“I’ve already had several conversations with the city and NOPD,” Duplessis said. “Implement some cement barriers that don’t impede the flow of traffic but will basically serve as little mini-neutral grounds which will stop them from being about to spin out in certain intersections.”
These events are not random, WWL-TV reports. The meet-ups in New Orleans neighborhoods have been described as a sort of flash mob or a pop up that's been organized on social media.
“They know where to meet,” Duplessis said. “They know when to meet. The idea is to do for as long as possible until the police show up.”
In a statement, a police spokesman told WWL-TV, “NOPD investigates all incidents of reckless driving that are observed or reported. Anyone who sees such behavior is urged to call police and report the activity immediately.”
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