dangerous, illegal passion for speed OUR VIEWPOINT

2015-05-23 11:08

JUST last month this newspaper reported that the Msunduzi Municipality was intending to clamp down firmly on lawlessness in Pietermaritzburg. This entailed strong enforcement of traffic and other laws, with an emphasis on the illegal drag racing plaguing the city.

The racing hotspots in the city were known to all and sundry — it was the days on which races are held that changed.

Now it appears that the irresponsible, foolhardy practice has been taken to another level of stupidity and ridiculousness by moving to the N3 freeway, where even higher speeds can be achieved — and exponentially increasing the potential for disaster.

With large sums of money up for grabs, and the dangerous allure for drag racing created by some films, it is not surprising that it is popular — both among participants and spectators. Clearly an intensive education campaign debunking the supposed glamour attached to such races is needed.

Accidents, with horrible, permanent results, happen even in controlled circumstances in which such racing is legally hosted, with the attendant safety gear and personnel in place to react immediately in the event of a disaster.

And spectators are not safe either — more than 80, watching from behind barriers, were killed when parts of a race car tore through them during a 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Here they watch in false security from behind a flimsy wire fence, which will do nothing to protect them in the event of an accident.

The Msunduzi council has already identified a spot where racing could take place legally — the old bus depot near Mason’s Mill.

Speaker Baboo Baijoo says the approval process should be complete by the end of June, which is little over a month away. Surely the racers can wait that long to indulge their passion for speed, but away from the public who they regularly put at risk through their reckless behaviour?

In the meanwhile, the police cannot be everywhere all the time, and no sooner have they clamped down on one illegal racing zone than the racers and their followers have moved to another — literally a regularly moving target.

The efforts of the police must not go unrewarded — an example must be made of those caught. It appears that nothing less than a huge fine, lengthy prison sentence and, if possible, confiscation of the high-powered cars will serve as a deterrent

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