Street racing is nothing new, but it may have found an opening of late. As we’ve reported previously, while the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has kept most people inside and cars off the roads, and according to some local news outlets, speeders and street racers have been taking advantage of those extra-empty streets—Atlantans included. They’ve been holding street races and road takeovers with hundreds of spectators, sometimes multiple nights in a row. Authorities are summoning a response.
In an effort to crack down on street racing—and, more specifically, the massive crowds these events tend to attract—the Atlanta City Council recently approved legislation that punishes bystanders, in addition to racing participants. We all know you can be sent to jail and have your license suspended if you’re caught street racing, but now you can face a fine of at least $1,000 and up to six months in jail just for watching street racing spectacles.
Atlanta isn’t the first city to try this. The city of San Jose, California, made it illegal to be a knowing bystander during a street race in April of last year. It’s not difficult to fathom why: Crowds are a large part of why street racing is so dangerous. It only takes a short Google search to find videos of people being hit by cars doing donuts in the middle of a city block. Some might say those people were asking for it, and they intentionally endangered their own lives, but the fact of the matter is that such incidents are avoidable, and anyone taking part in street racing shouldn’t be there in the first place.
Here at MotorTrend, we understand everyone’s love for cars. That said, doing burnouts and running drag races in the middle of public roads is not a safe way to share your passion—or cure your boredom or show off or whatever else you might be doing.
If you want to have a little fun in your car, take it to the drag strip or the race track, where you can legally let loose in a structured environment. We test new vehicles on a closed course—you can, too. If you enjoy simply watching feats of speed, there are grandstands at most circuits and drag strips in the U.S., and getting in to one of those is lot cheaper than the $1,000 fine you can now face in Atlanta and elsewhere.