An open road is not a personal racetrack, but some seem to think differently. In these top ten states, road racing occurs at unprecedented rates.
Rates of street racing are on the rise. Over the past year, the coronavirus pandemic provided the perfect opportunity for speed racing enthusiasts to spend time at home fixing up and modifying their cars, according to a 2021 report from Associated Press News. Paired with reduced traffic on public roads, street racing exploded across the nation. The same report found that street racing complaints in 2020 skyrocketed in multiple cities, with some police departments even experiencing five times the number of complaints compared to the same period in 2019.
Although pandemic shutdowns are past their peak as cities reopen fully to the public, street racing remains a growing issue in 2021. Officials across the nation continue to grapple with the rising number of complaints and even death toll resulting from this street racing boom. State officials are advocating for new laws, including harsher penalties for at-fault motorists and increased patrol by law enforcement on both highways and city streets, in an attempt to combat this upsurge in street racing.
While this uptick in high-speed racing has made national headlines, there are certain states where this phenomenon is occurring at more frequent — and dangerous — rates. To see which states are home to the most street racers in the nation, the data scientists at Insurify turned to their database of over 4 million car insurance applications.
- National averages. Across the United States, the average number of drivers with a street racing violation per state is 6.41 per 100,000 drivers. For reckless driving violations, the average number of at-fault drivers is 140.80 per 100,000 drivers. The penalty fine for a street racing violation varies widely by state. However, for the ten states with the most street racers in 2021, offenders may pay between $20 to $2,500, in addition to potentially serving jail time and having their license revoked for up to one year.
- Street racing is on the rise but still less common overall. While street racing violations have increased significantly over the past year, street racing remains a comparatively less common traffic offense. Drivers are reprimanded for citations like at-fault accidents, speeding, and DUIs far more often than they are for street racing. These three violations occur more than 99 percent more frequently than street racing on the state level.
- Street racing and reckless driving are significantly correlated. Insurify’s data scientists implemented a Pearson’s correlation test to examine the prevalence of street racing and reckless driving in the United States. They found that statewide rates of street racing and reckless driving have a significant, positive correlation, suggesting that states with higher levels of reckless driving are more likely to have higher levels of street racing (R=0.28, p < 0.05). Police officers sometimes will cite reckless drivers with additional, more specific charges for violations like speeding, DUIs, or even street racing, which is a potential explanation for this correlation.
The data scientists at Insurify, an auto insurance comparison platform, referred to their database of over 4 million car insurance applications to identify the states with the most street racers. When applying for car insurance, users submit their state of residence and driving history, including any violations on their record. Insurify’s analysts compared the number of drivers in the past year reporting at least one street racing violation on their record to the total number of drivers in each state. The ten states with the highest proportion of drivers with street racing citations were identified as the states with the most street racers in 2021. Statewide reckless driving rates from the past year were also gleaned from Insurify’s database using the same methodology.
Penalties for street racing by state were derived from state-specific government and law resources.
Top 10 States with the Most Street Racers (2021)
1. North Dakota - 85% more street racing violations than average
2. Idaho - 78% more street racing violations than average
3. Wyoming - 78% more street racing violations than average
4. Oregon - 75% more street racing violations than average
5. Hawaii - 70% more street racing violations than average
6. Arkansas - 56% more street racing violations than average
7. Iowa - 52% more street racing violations than average
8. Wisconsin - 42% more street racing violations than average
9. Tennessee - 38% more street racing violations than average
10. Virginia - 27% more street racing violations than average
States with the Most Street Racers, 2021
- Drivers with a street racing violation: 8.73 per 100,000 drivers
- Street racing violation penalty: up to $2,500, jail sentence up to 1 year, 6 months license suspension
- Drivers with a reckless driving violation: 559.83 per 100,000 drivers
Drivers in The Old Dominion have the tenth-highest rate of street racing violations in the nation. Virginia drivers are cited for participating in illegal street racing 27 percent more often than the average driver. Not only do Virginia drivers have an unprecedented need for speed, but their rate of reckless driving likewise exceeds the national average. However, the penalty for illegal drag racing in Virginia is quite serious, especially compared to many of the other states in the rankings.
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- Drivers with a street racing violation: 10.19 per 100,000 drivers
- Street racing violation penalty: up to $500, up to 6 months in jail, probationary period, court costs, revocation of license for at least 1 year (some or all)
- Drivers with a reckless driving violation: 151.59 per 100,000 drivers
Drivers should take care on the roads in their Tennessee mountain home, because Tennessee drivers are the ninth-most prone to street racing in the country. Volunteer State drivers engage in street racing at a rate that exceeds the national average by 38 percent. Like many of the states in the top 10, their reckless driving rate is also above-average. Officials do not let these dangerous drivers get off easy though; street racers in Tennessee are liable not only to pay up to $500, but they also risk getting their license revoked for at least one year, probation, or even jail time.
- Drivers with a street racing violation: 11.03 per 100,000 drivers
- Street racing violation penalty: between $20 and $400
- Drivers with a reckless driving violation: 131.28 per 100,000 drivers
Some Wisconsinites just don’t slow down for anyone in 2021: drivers in Wisconsin receive a citation for illegal street racing 42 percent more often than the national average. Despite having the eighth-highest statewide street racing rate in the nation, Wisconsin is comparatively less punitive for first-time offenders than that of many of the other states in the rankings. A Wisconsin street racer may pay 84 percent less in fines than one in Virginia or Arkansas, where fines can reach $2,500.
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- Drivers with a street racing violation: 13.12 per 100,000 drivers
- Street racing violation penalty: between $65 and $625, up to 30 days in jail, revocation of license
- Drivers with a reckless driving violation: 84.33 per 100,000 drivers
The Hawkeye State has the seventh-highest rate of street racing in the nation. In fact, Iowans are cited for illegal street racing 52 percent more than the national average, despite having an overall lower-than-average reckless driving rate. Violators of street racing laws in Iowa are liable for up to $625 in fines and even potential jail time. Iowa takes street racing very seriously; it’s not just a moving violation but also a misdemeanor.
- Drivers with a street racing violation: 14.43 per 100,000 drivers
- Street racing violation penalty: up to $2,500, up to a year in jail
- Drivers with a reckless driving violation: 83.54 per 100,000 drivers
Drivers in Arkansas are 2.25 times more likely to engage in street racing than the average driver, landing the Natural State the sixth in the nation for the highest rate of street racing. Surprisingly, Arkansas’s reckless driving citation rate is considerably lower than the national average. Fines for rule-breaking racers in Arkansas are quite heavy, up to $2,500. While Arkansas has a higher-than-average rate of street racing, the state takes this violation quite seriously.
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- Drivers with a street racing violation: 21.00 per 100,000 drivers
- Street racing violation penalty: up to $500, up to six months in jail
- Drivers with a reckless driving violation: 20.84 per 100,000 drivers
For some Hawaiian drivers, island time does not always go slower. With 70 percent more street racers than average, Hawaii’s driving population has the fifth-highest rate of street racing in the nation. Interestingly, Hawaii’s reckless driving rate is much lower than the national average. In Hawaii, street racing is not just a moving violation; it’s considered a misdemeanor and violators can end up serving jail time.
- Drivers with a street racing violation: 25.09 per 100,000 drivers
- Street racing violation penalty: $435
- Drivers with a reckless driving violation: 152.73 per 100,000 drivers
Oregon has the fourth-highest street racing rate in the United States in 2021. The Beaver State is home to drivers who are cited for street racing 75 percent more frequently than the average American driver. While Oregon drivers’ penalty for participating in an illegal drag race is not cheap, at $435, it’s comparatively less punitive than other states’.
- Drivers with a street racing violation: 28.18 per 100,000 drivers
- Street racing violation penalty: $210
- Drivers with a reckless driving violation: 223.21 per 100,000 drivers
Illegal street racing in Wyoming occurs 78 percent more frequently than average. Likewise, Wyoming’s reckless driving rate is significantly higher-than-average. Some may recognize the roads in the Cowboy State from Discovery’s “Street Races: Outlaws in America”, a reality program documenting street races on Casper highways. While the races in the show are technically legal, since officials temporarily shut down the public streets used for their routes, it’s clear that Wyoming has evidently made a name for itself in the American street racing scene illegally as well.
- Drivers with a street racing violation: 29.08 per 100,000 drivers
- Street racing violation penalty: up to $1000, up 10 six months in jail, fine of $1000, and four points on driving record
- Drivers with a reckless driving violation: 182.62 per 100,000 drivers
In Idaho, drivers illegally street race at a rate that’s 78 percent higher than the national average. While reckless driving in the Gem State’s reckless driving is on par with the national average, Idaho lawmakers are taking dangerous drivers to task, at least when it comes to street racing. If caught, drivers pay up to $1000 in fines, rack up four points on their records, and may even serve time in jail.
1. North Dakota
- Drivers with a street racing violation: 41.42 per 100,000 drivers
- Street racing violation penalty: $100
- Drivers with a reckless driving violation: 409.84 per 100,000 drivers
In 2021, North Dakota has the most street racers in the nation. In fact, North Dakota lands in first place by somewhat of a longshot: North Dakotans are cited for street racing 85 percent more often than the national average, which is a significant jump from street racing rates in Idaho (which ranks second in the nation). Not only are drivers in the Roughrider State speedy, they’re also reckless, with reckless driving violations far exceeding the national average. The penalty for street racers in North Dakota is relatively low, even though complaints about street racing in cities like Grand Forks have greatly increased over the past year. North Dakota may benefit from emulating other U.S. cities like Los Angeles and New York, to establish a street racing-specific task force and legislation for stricter penalties to curb this dangerous behavior.
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