BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Kern County leaders announced a joint effort to put the brakes on illegal street racing and sideshows.
A "sideshow" is an "informal" demonstration of car stunts often held in vacant lots, parking lots and even public intersections. They first became popular in Oakland, California in the 80s.
Unpredictable, dangerous, and preventable were three words Kern County leaders used to describe illegal street racing and sideshows.
They say fatal crashes caused by street racing increased in the summer and that it's ultimately gotten out of control which is why the group is working together to increase enforcement and consequences.
“A lot of these incidents lead to violent collisions where not only are the participants getting injured and losing their lives but spectators and innocent individuals and I wanted to point out that each of these crashes whether someone is injured or loses their lives is 100% preventable,” explained Chief Ceto Ortiz with the California Highway Patrol.
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Kern County leaders say illegal street racing and sideshows have increased and has dangerously impacted the community.
“In 2021, CHP responded to more than 29,000 calls for service involving street racing and sideshows,” said Ortiz.
“We’ve seen assaults, robberies, acts of violence, police officers being struck by vehicles, assaulted with bottles, rocks and various things at these events,” added Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Terry.
This is why Assemblyman Vince Fong is stepping forward to combat the issue.
“Just a few weeks ago, there were over 300 cars that took over our streets. Many came from outside of our community. That is why I am leading a bipartisan effort to secure another $5.5 million for the enforcement of illegal sideshows”
Fong says this measure and its funding, an expansion of last year’s law Assembly Bill 3, will also allow law enforcement and the courts to crack down on sideshows in parking lots with license suspensions and other tools necessary to save lives.
“There will be a $500,000 public education campaign to encourage young drivers not to in sideshow activity street takeovers and street racing,” says Fong.
District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer assured there will be consequences for offenders.
“We are prosecuting people at this time who've engaged in street racing that resulted in the death of another for murder. I would say don’t do it. Don’t ruin your life. It is not worth it and to the older people who know better, you should know better because we’re going to prosecute you to the full extent of the law.”
Kern County leaders are also asking the community to help law enforcement. If you witness illegal street racing and sideshow activity call 911 immediately and provide a description of the vehicles.
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