Assemblywoman Nily Rozic is trying to slow down illegal street racing in eastern Queens and citywide by announcing a new legislation that would hold reckless drivers accountable for violating the law, regardless of whether they pre-planned a race course.
Rozic and Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) on Tuesday, Sept. 22, announced the legislation, Fighting Underground Racing In Our Streets (FURIOUS) Act, in response to numerous complaints about dangerous speed racing across the city.
“The status quo is simply unacceptable,” Rozic said. “We need to hold reckless drivers accountable and make it clear that this dangerous behavior will not be tolerated on our streets, particularly during a raging pandemic.”
The legislation comes after Rozic sent a letter to the 107th NYPD Precinct in Fresh Meadows and NYPD Highway Patrol about the ongoing issue that has kept locals awake at all hours of the night complaining about “revving engines, screeching tires and squealing brakes.”
Prevalent drag racing has been reported across Fresh Meadows, specifically at the Fresh Meadows Shopping Center parking lot located at 64th Avenue and 188th Street and surrounding streets, as well as Cunningham Park, Rozic said.
“With most people forced to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic, some of the ones who are still driving around are taking the opportunity to get reckless on the road,” Rozic said in the letter. “The risk and disturbance is even greater for residents in Fresh Meadows who are staying at home as much as possible.”
According to Rozic, neighbors have said the drag racing begins as early as 5 p.m. and extends late into the night. Though residents have contacted the precinct about the issue, they believe there has been minimal action taken on their behalf.
To curb the practice of drag racing in the community, Rozic had requested increased patrols from Neighborhood Coordination Officers (NCOs) during evening hours.
“Drag racers have consistently returned to Fresh Meadows to take advantage of our quiet, open streets,” Rozic said. “Increasing patrols in the area would allow law enforcement to witness the drag racing firsthand and take action while reassuring the safety of local residents.
Across the city, residents have been filing complaints about the surge of illegal racing, which puts motorists, pedestrians and cyclists in peril and keeps locals awake at all hours of the night.
City data shows 1,057 complaints were made to 311 about drag racing between March 20 and Sept. 10 – nearly five times the 239 calls made during the same period in 2019. In August alone, 214 complaints were made — compared to just 73 in August 2019.
The new legislation would authorize the city to operate existing speed cameras in areas generating specific complaints about drag racing or other reckless driving from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., pending approval from a local community board.
It also amends state law to further restrict illegal street racing. Legal precedent makes it difficult to hold dangerous racers accountable due to the limited scope of a law that has been interpreted to mean that the drivers must have agreed on a course beforehand.