State police cracking down on illegal street racing

Illegal street racing is becoming more common in the Pittsburgh region, and leaders are cracking down on the dangerous crime.

“This is an issue, and you’re going to see a lot more troopers out, especially in our area on 79, 376, 70 down in Washington County, where we see these higher reports of speeding,” said Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Rocco Gagliardi.

PSP, AAA and PennDOT united for a press conference to discuss the growing problem on Thursday.

“Unfortunately, people participating or just showing interest in illegal street racing varies in a wide range of ages, even as young as 13 years old,” said Yasmeen Manyisha, PennDOT spokesperson.

The risky hobby is commonly filmed for and shared on social media. Last year, Channel 11 reported that a social media content creator from Florida was among several charged for blocking the Fort Pitt Bridge to drag race. The criminal situation caused chaos, and a fleeing car struck a police cruiser.

>> State police car hit responding to report of 50 vehicles drag racing on Fort Pitt Bridge

“That blockage of a major street like that, it just cannot happen,” Gagliardi said.

While PSP is not able to discuss its pursuit policy, Gagliardi told reporters that police have many methods, including using highway cameras, to track down culprits. Those drivers face additional charges, beyond just speeding, especially if they end up harming someone.

“Not only have people been injured, but this illegal activity has led to an increase in speed-related crashes across our nation,” said AAA East Central Spokesperson Tiffany Stanley.

Stanley urges parents to monitor where and how their kids are driving. Leaders say these crimes are suspected to pick up as the temperatures warm up.

As for those with the need for speed, there are legal options to get your fix, Stanley said.

“There are plenty of local racetracks in our area, especially in the Pittsburgh area, where even teenagers can legally race,” she said. “Races at these locations have many rules and regulations to keep drivers safe.”

Officials did not share local statistics pertaining to street racing crashes, explaining that the problem is relatively new to our area.

If you witness illegal street racing on the roads or online, contact police.

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