Street racers are plaguing the Washington, D.C., suburbs, reports the Washington Post. These contests, which differ from sanctioned drag racing, can reach speeds of more than 120 mph. Equipped with a police scanner, racers learn when officers are on the way, spreading the word via cell phone and scrambling to another racing spot. Seven area crashes in the past three weeks left 14 young people, including a 3-year-old girl, dead. Police believe at least two of those collisions were related to racing. Speed was a factor in others.
Police in the region blame the problem on a subculture of speeding. Street racing has surged in the area in the past three years, particularly with the popularity of the 2001 racing movie “The Fast and the Furious.” Also catching teenagers’ attention are racing video games in which drivers crash and keep going, with no one getting hurt or killed. Street races have become more deadly because of an increasingly dangerous mix: The cars of choice have gotten smaller — compacts have largely replaced the muscle cars of the 1960s — while the roads on which they’re speeding have become more crowded and dangerous. Many high-speed collisions involving young drivers result from impromptu races between stoplights or inexperienced drivers trying to impress a carload of friends. Police are targeting them with an education campaign, including a segment in 10th-grade health classes on the dangers of aggressive driving.