QCOSTARICA – Security Minister Gustavo Mata warned this week that even spectators at (illegal) street races (Piques, in Spanish) are subject to fines and arrest, under the explanation that if there weren’t crowds to watch, the illicit sport would grow old in a hurry.
In this country, street racing is not only a competition between cars but between motorcycles as well, a situation that has now hit epidemic proportions.
Informal racing on streets and roadways is a dangerous sport and completely uncontrolled. It seems to be a problem in many towns of any size in countries like The United States, France and Australia and its popularity is fueled by glorification in the “Fast and Furious” franchise of action films unfortunately.
But it places not only drivers and motorcyclists at risk but persons on sidewalks as well. Just a few months ago a person who may or may not have been a spectator or merely an innocent bystander was killed when a competitor lost control of his machine.
In the last month and a half Mata reports that police have confiscated 67 pairs of license plates for the offense in 45 special operations, issuing a thousand traffic citations. Police have zeroed in on 17 critical points that are favorites with racers and its operations have confiscated 38 cars.
Last year police confiscated 41 cars and 269 motorcycles in only 42 operations but, despite this and 1,929 fines, racers did not, obviously get the message. Street racing is especially dangerous in that drivers are untrained for it, no inspections assure that the vehicles are in shape and vehicles are not built to be stable at the speeds they attain.
Moreover, the streets on which they race are not built to lessen the impact of crashes. It is only a matter of time before one race (known as piques in Spanish) ends in tragedy.
Article by iNews.co.cr, with editing by the Q.