An internet search for street racing computer games using the Google retrieves 278 hits. Try street racing movies and you will probably get about 769 hits. A search for street racing fatalities retrieves 749 hits.
The film industry has recently produced “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”
, which apparently focuses extensively on street racing. It has renewed the debate about the influence of the type of film on youth driving behaviour. Are these movies glorifying a street racing sub-culture? Do they put driving furiously in a positive light? And if the movies (and similar computer games) aren’t to blame for ongoing street racing problems, where else should we look?
Offences for racing
Whatever the cause (or causes), street racing has claimed many victims in Canada in recent years—three new victims in British Columbia in two separate incidents in late June 2006— to become the subject of a proposed amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada — “Bill C–19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing)”. It defines street racing as “operating a motor vehicle in a race with at least one other motor vehicle on a street, road, highway or another public place”. The legislation creates the following new offences:
- Dangerous driving causing bodily harm
- Criminal negligence causing bodily harm
- Dangerous driving causing death.
- Criminal negligence causing death
The punishments for these new offences remain the same as existing punishments for the least serious and most serious driving offences. However, it increases the maximum terms of imprisonment for three of the offences, as follows:
- Dangerous driving causing bodily harm while street racing: 14 years instead of 10 years.
- Dangerous driving causing death while street racing: lifetime imprisonment instead of 14 years.
- Criminal negligence causing bodily harm while street racing: 14 years instead of 10 years.
The new law also provides for minimum driving prohibitions that increase with second and subsequent convictions. These take effect following any term of imprisonment, last a minimum of one year up to minimum lifetime bans for more than one conviction for dangerous driving causing death while street racing and criminal negligence causing death while street racing.
Critics of the proposed legislation argue that harsh sentences for street racing are already available under existing sections of the Criminal Code, that proving street racing in court may be so difficult as to render these provisions useless, that increasing maximum sentences is an ineffective deterrent, and that driving prohibitions are unlikely to be obeyed by those who have already clearly demonstrated their contempt for the basic rules of safe driving.
Proponents have to concede that street racing is already illegal. The point is that the publicity surrounding these proposed changes with the new threat of stiffer penalties may help deter street racing.