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'Fast & Furious'-Inspired Street Racing Spreads In CA, AZ

Los Angeles residents are growing tired of car racing taking over their streets. Drivers flood the streets, often blocking intersections and interfering with local traffic. Crowds numbering in the hundreds gather for the late-night displays in cities across the U.S., putting themselves in danger when a vehicle goes out of control or someone brandishes a gun. Police struggle with containing what is known as street takeovers, as they lack the manpower to stop what has been been popularized by the “Fast & Furious” movie franchise, reports Cronkite News. This year the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has received 838 calls demanding action to stop street takeovers. Sheriff’s deputies say they’re overwhelmed by the hundreds of carloads of people who can show up, and the potential for violence. “In a street takeover, there are usually two hundred cars or three hundred cars – a single station can’t handle that by themselves,” said sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Downing. The California Highway Patrol this year has impounded more than 800 cars and written more than 3,600 citations. Drivers are also fined and in rare cases arrested. The public is demanding more effective solutions.

The popularity of the "Fast & Furious" movies, is the inspiration of many drivers as they attempt to emulate stunts they’ve seen on screen. Social media also acts as encouragement as drivers post their exploits further fueling illegal activity and the competitive spirit among car clubs. The most resistance is from residents living in Angelino Heights, near downtown Los Angeles, where the first "Fast & Furious" was filmed and the 10th is being shot. Protesters say the movies have attracted street racers and made their neighborhood a danger zone. Drivers became more brazen during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, which cleared normally clogged streets and freeways of traffic. Suddenly, many streets were empty and drivers believed they had a newfound freedom to speed, either for takeovers or street racing. Arizona also has seen a rise in such activity. On a single night in February, ABC15 reported street takeovers in Glendale, Phoenix and Scottsdale, resulting in multiple arrests. And in August, street racing killed four people in Phoenix and one person in Chandler Lili Trujillo Puckett, founder of Street Racing Kills, an organization that works to prevent reckless driving among the youth, said one solution would be to expand the number of legitimate race tracks available to drivers.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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