Does Hollywood Encourage Illegal Speed Racing?

Despite its glorification in Hollywood films such as the “Fast and the Furious” series and “Need for Speed,” street racing (or drag racing) has been blamed for causing many accidents — and with good reason. Drivers often lose control of their vehicles due to high racing speeds, resulting in injuries and fatalities to drivers, passengers, or bystanders.

Street racing generally refers to any contest or exhibition of speed between two or more vehicles on any street or roadway and is illegal in most states, including California. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles and the California Office of Traffic Safety, hundreds of citations are issued each year for illegal speed racing. Since 2006, California has allowed prosecutors to charge drivers who engage in reckless driving or speed contests that injure another person with a felony. Drivers could also be sentenced to six months in state prison and fined up to $1,000. Prior to that time, drivers could only be charged with a misdemeanor and thus faced shorter prison stints (if they faced any at all).