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Street Racing Puts the Public in Double Jeopardy

Posted by Benjamin P. Melnick | Jul 09, 2020 | 0 Comments

In the past few months, local media outlets have reported on increases in speeding  This includes reports of increases in people driving excessively fast, organized street racing, and the like. In fact, we have already written on the increase in speeding here. Recently, the Columbian reported on how Portland's crush of street racing has migrated north of the river.

Street racing is a real double whammy for public safety. In Washington, racing is per se reckless driving, exhibiting a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. In Oregon, street racing can be anywhere from a Class A traffic offense to a class C felony. It is dangerous, and law enforcement is rightfully cracking down on as of late.

Aside from the criminal consequences the participants can face, it is exceedingly dangerous to the public at large. The cars are driving faster, the “race courses” are just open roads with innocent and uninvolved drivers, and the inevitable consequences of a crash could spell even greater disaster for the vehicle occupants.

Compounding this problem, most insurance policies contain racing exclusions. In a collision that simply occurs as a result of a person's negligence, the at fault driver's insurance company would pay the damages. However, in the all too likely event of a collision during the street racing event, the participants place the public in danger placing the public in danger without any insurance coverage to cover the damages for the havoc they cause.

There are some steps people can take to guard against this. First, for Washington residents, make sure to purchase uninsured motorist coverage and personal injury protection coverage.  For Oregon residents, these coverages are required in all policies. Second, especially during the coronavirus restrictions, minimize travel wherever possible.  Finally, for the people participating in street racing, try to find a different outlet for an adrenaline fix.

About the Author

Benjamin P. Melnick

Ben Melnick joined the firm in 2018. He graduated from Washington State University with a Bachelor's degree in 2010, and went on to earn his Juris Doctorate from Gonzaga University School of Law. In 2016, he was named as the Clark County Bar Association's Rising Star. His practice focuses on personal injury, auto accidents, biking accidents, wrongful death, and insurance disputes. Outside work, Ben likes spend time with his wife outdoors—mostly running, hiking, and skiing—and playing soccer.

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