The Automobile Club of Southern California, safety group Street Racing Kills, street racing victims and law enforcement joined Assemblymember Vince Fong (R-Kern County) on Thursday in Bakersfield to applaud Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature of Assembly Bill 3. The new law, authored by Fong, adds penalties for so-called “sideshow” participants who take over intersections or parking lots.
A sideshow has been defined for law enforcement purposes for the first time thanks to the new law: Two or more persons blocking or impeding traffic on a highway, for the purpose of performing motor vehicle stunts, motor vehicle speed contests, motor vehicle exhibitions of speed, or reckless driving, for spectators. These activities often lead to street racing after the show.
Drivers who participate in sideshows, under the new law, can have their driver licenses restricted or suspended for up to six months, and be fined up to $500.
“Illegal sideshows continue to devastate families, claim innocent lives in our communities, and create serious risks for our youth,” said Assemblymember Fong. “Proactive enforcement is critical to stopping dangerous sideshows before they start. This law will make our streets safer for everyone and together, we will send a strong message that this dangerous activity will not be tolerated.”
Sideshows and street racing have surged during the pandemic. The California Highway Patrol reported it received more than 25,000 calls last year related to street racing and street takeovers – a 16 percent increase from 2019. The Bakersfield Police Department reported more than 6,000 street racing complaints last year.
Recent research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that even modestly higher speeds at the time of a crash dramatically increase the chances of severe injury and death, and also can cancel out the benefits of vehicle safety features (like airbags).
“We encourage drivers who enjoy racing to find a legal program at a local racetrack, where they won’t endanger the lives of others,” said Auto Club spokesperson Doug Shupe.
Street Racing Kills Founder Lili Trujillo Puckett joined Fong and the Auto Club at the event. She launched the non-profit organization in 2014 after her 16-year old daughter Valentina was killed by a young man who gave her a ride home and then engaged in a race with another driver.
“As parents we’re not supposed to bury our children, and I decided I was not going to let my daughter’s death be in vain,” said Trujillo Puckett. “We have to create awareness of the dangers of illegal street racing.”
Since launching Street Racing Kills, Trujillo Puckett has met many other families who have lost loved ones to illegal street racing. Lori Argumedo lost her 23-year old niece Bethany in 2019, after police say street racers slammed into a vehicle she was riding in on a residential street. Argumedo is one of many who have joined Street Racing Kills as more innocent lives are claimed by the dangerous and illegal activity.
“It’s senseless and something that could’ve been prevented,” said Argumedo.
About Street Racing Kills: Street Racing Kills is a non-profit organization comprised of families who’ve lost loved ones to illegal street racers. Their mission is to save lives and create public awareness about the dangers and consequences of illegal street racing. Lili Trujillo Puckett founded Street Racing Kills (SRK) in 2014 after her 16-year-old daughter Valentina was killed by a young man who was street racing and crashed while giving her a ride home. For more information and to view a map outlining the latest street racing-involved crashes visit streetracingkills.org.
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation's mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by researching their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research develops educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users.