SANTA ANA, Calif. (NewsNation Now) — Officials nationwide are cracking down on a growing problem of street racing. Noisy cars and off-road vehicles causing havoc in their communities.
Illegal shows often draw crowds, into the hundreds. Police say big audiences is what fuels drivers.
In Santa Ana, California, officials are trying a new tactic to crack down on illegal street racing by going after the crowds. The city council gave initial approval to an ordinance that would make it illegal to watch street races in the city.
According to Santa Ana Police Department Traffic Commander Chuck Elms, accomplices in the crowds can complicate policing.
“Part of their job, in addition to spectating and cheering, is to block police from getting to these vehicles to conduct enforcement,” Elms explained.
The ordinance would outlaw being a spectator; violators would face possible jail time or fines up to $1,000.
Other cities, such as Anaheim and San Diego, have already passed similar legislation, perhaps pushing illegal activity around.
Illegal street racing is happening across the country — from the West Coast to the streets of Memphis and Nashville to Portland, Oregon.
In Cleveland, the problem has grown to include dirt bikers. Police have responded to multiple calls of intersection shutdowns and drivers being threatened.
Police departments are stretched tracking fast and furious moving targets.
“When one intersection is staked out, they just keep going on to the next one of either route, and they’ll do this all friggin’ day,” said Brad Kane, President of South Carthay Neighborhood Association.
Dangerous driving and out-of-control cars have led to several deaths, including two in Santa Ana last year.
“I think definitely taking away the crowd would take away some of the thrill that these drivers get by doing these slide shows,” Elms said. “So yes, if we address the problems with these crowds, then the drivers will go elsewhere or they won’t do it at all.”
Some lawmakers have raised concern around innocent bystanders being swept up in blanket fines and arrests. The ordinance in Santa Ana is expected to be considered by the full council next month.