County officials team up to combat illegal street racing and sideshows
Assemblyman Vince Fong
June 25, 2022
In a show of force, Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Terry, Sheriff Donny Youngblood, CHP Chief Ceto Ortiz, Central Division, District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer, Mayor Karen Goh and Assemblyman Vince Fong held a press conference to highlight their efforts to combat illegal sideshows and street racing leading into the summer - warning young drivers and spectators to not participate in these illegal activities.
Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Kern County), who is leading the effort to prohibit sideshows in parking lots in retail shopping centers, said, "There is not a weekend that goes by where there's not a street race or sideshow. More legislation and funding is needed to give law enforcement officials the tools needed to curb these preventable injuries and fatalities."
Assembly Bill 2000 by Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills) will allow law enforcement and the courts to crack down on sideshows in parking lots with license suspensions. This measure is an expansion of last year's law – Assembly Bill 3 by Assemblyman Fong.
Assemblyman Fong is also pushing for the approval of $5.5 million in state funding for the enforcement against illegal sideshows.
Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh warned that street racing and sideshows are not welcomed.
"Bakersfield is a great community in which to live and raise a family. We want to keep it that way. That's why our law enforcement officials will cite and arrest those who participate in these illegal and dangerous activities. Reckless drivers are putting lives at risk. Our city will not tolerate their treacherous actions," Goh said.
State and local law enforcement officials also discussed upcoming enforcement operations.
"Incidents of street racing and side shows are often seen as victimless crimes. The reality is that our community has paid the very real cost of these activities with losses of life from collisions as well as crimes of violence. All support from our legislature and community are appreciated, and we look forward to continuing to disrupt and prevent these gatherings," said Chief Greg Terry, Bakersfield Police Department.
California Highway Patrol Chief Ceto Ortiz stated, "Our freeways, roadways and bridges have been shut down by persons engaged in illegal street racing and sideshow activity, and this is unacceptable to the CHP and our communities. Due to the unsafe driving involved in this illegal activity, crashes caused by street racing and sideshows are absolutely preventable. In response, we will use all of our resources to eradicate the injuries and the deaths caused from street racing and sideshows."
Sideshows and street racing have surged during the pandemic. The California Highway Patrol received more than 25,000 calls last year related to street racing and street takeovers – a 16 percent increase from 2019.
Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer cautioned participants.
"Street racing, sideshows and street take overs are illegal and will be prosecuted. Street racing is inherently dangerous to human life and if a death results, the driver can be prosecuted for murder."
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 air bags.