COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL)— In 2022, the City of Columbus had nearly 30 traffic-related fatalities. One of which Columbus Police say they directly attribute to street-racing.
The Columbus Police Department defines street racing as, “two or more cars or vehicles in an attempt for some type of competition, trying to out race out drive another driver.”
In Oct. of 2022, authorities say one woman was killed because of street-racing on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. According to the Muscogee County Coroner’s Office, another vehicle collided with the woman’s car while they were driving down the wrong side of the road. She died a week later in the hospital.
Less than two months later, a driver caught this video on camera at the intersection of Macon and Reese Roads.
Drivers caught street racing or found guilty of street racing could face a misdemeanor of high aggravated manner following Governor Brian Kemp’s new legislation House Bill 534 that was passed this past May. Lt. Fred Carnes with the Columbus Police Department says what this means, is once the charge is made, fines are in place and suspension of the driver’s license remedies for that once they are convicted of the offenses. In Columbus, Lt. Carnes says he has seen an uptick in these crimes over the last three years.
“Since COVID, the laying of the drag, the racing, and the reckless driving with the car clubs has really sprung way up,” Lt. Carnes said. “It has become an issue all to itself, not the typical cruising where people just drive from parking lot to parking lot, but now it’s ‘How fast can I get you there? And how many cars can I cut off before we get there?'”
He says the police department has seen a trend in locations where these crimes are taking place, and in response they have organized patrols in those areas to work to deter the crimes from happening.
“We’ve had numerous complaints from the Civic Center. Which we have details of select nature on select nights that they are a problem, we are actively patrolling that area. As well as other areas in Columbus, which I won’t name, that we are actively patrolling on select dates when we have the highest problem,” Lt. Carnes said.
He advises citizens to drive defensively. Even if you have the green light, make sure no cars are running the red light.
Lt. Carnes says if you see someone drag-racing, try and have a passenger in the car capture the license plate, get a video of the actions, and write down which road it happened on to turn into police. They will send an officer to the scene to investigate and look for witnesses.