JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two Jacksonville men were arrested after a police officer saw them street racing and hit speeds of 116 mph trying to keep up with them on Saturday night, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
An arrest report for one of the men states the officer saw the racing going on from Beach Boulevard to the Hart Expressway. The report shows a 23-year-old man and a 25-year-old man were eventually pulled over and taken into custody.
Both men are charged with street racing and reckless driving.
On June 25, one of the men was pulled over and cited by the Florida Highway Patrol after troopers said he was caught doing 135 mph in a 65-mph area of an interstate.
When it comes to street racing, News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson, a retired JSO officer, said it happens more often in Jacksonville than most people may think.
“It happens very often, particularly on the weekends. It starts on a Friday,” Jefferson said. “A lot of times when I’m driving, I see it all the time.”
Jefferson said that in most cases, it’s hard to report street racing because details about the cars are hard to give a 911 operator when cars are zooming past at a high rate of speed.
“You don’t have a tag number. You have a vague vehicle description,” Jefferson said. “If an officer is not right there right then, it’s hard to catch them.”
Even if law enforcement officers catch racers in the act and try to go after them, Jefferson said, they are still at a disadvantage.
“The disadvantage that the police have is that they are trying to make sure everybody is safe while they are trying to get onto them. They’re looking at pedestrians walking. They’re looking at other cars coming into an intersection,” he said, adding the advantage that law enforcement officers do have is calling in other nearby officers who may be ahead of the racers and calling in a helicopter that can monitor the racers from the air.
Anyone pulled over for street racing in which an officer observes the racer weaving between cars could also be charged with reckless driving.
“God forbid you hit someone and kill them,” Jefferson said.
That’s what happened in April in Osceola County, where FHP said street racing led to the death of an 11-year-old passenger in an SUV. Troopers said the SUV was hit by a Dodge Charger that, according to witnesses, was racing another vehicle.
WKMG-TV reported FHP said it has seen an uptick in offenses related to street racing.
“We have written hundreds of tickets for the last year, year and a half, for drivers illegally modifying their vehicles for street racing,” said FHP Lt. Kim Montes.
Jefferson said he believes Hollywood movies and video games that glorify street racing is what’s encouraging this dangerous behavior that can terrify other drivers.
“These guys are revving up their engines. They’re coming by you. They’re passing you real fast as though you’re sitting still,” Jefferson said. “And sometimes people panic, and it causes them to crash.”
Jefferson said that if you look through your rearview mirror and see two cars racing behind you and they are coming up fast, don’t panic. If there is enough room to safely get out of their way then do so, but if not, just let them pass you.