Despite being outlawed, drag racing continues to be a recreational activity among thrill-seeking drivers across the nation, including in Ohio. And although it is not often seen making headlines, the recent death of a college professor and her two-year-old daughter has illuminated the serious car accident risks taken on by these drivers.
And it's not just the drivers themselves that are at risk. The mother and daughter killed in the recent crash were innocent commuters who were struck by a car driven by a 23-year-old drag racer. That driver was in competition with a 47-year-old woman, both of whom were traveling at speeds around 85 miles per hour prior to the car crash.
A 13-year-old passenger in one of the drag racing cards was also killed.
Both drag racers were charged and convicted of three counts of involuntary manslaughter. The driver who struck the vehicle was sentenced to 45 months in prison, while the other driver was sentenced to 32 months.
Unfortunately, data regarding drag racing crashes is hard to gather because the illicit activity is not easily tracked. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports, though, that 122 drag racing-related crashes resulted in 153 deaths nationally between 2001 and 2010.
However, the NHTSA has recently changed how it defines "racing" to be more inclusive of accidents where at least one party was charged by police with racing. If that definition were retroactively applied to crashes occurring prior to 2009, when the change was implemented, there would have been 1,047 deaths in total attributed to drag racing between 2001 and 2008 alone.
Source: USA TODAY, "Illegal drag racing still deadly practice," Larry Copeland, Sept. 14, 2012