At 2 a.m. on Feb. 26, 2015, two cars, a Ford Mustang and a Nissan GT-R, were involved in a street race on the intersection of Canoga Ave. and Plummer St. At the very beginning of the race, the Mustang swerved out of the driver’s control and crashed into three civilians, killing two and severely injuring the other. This incident happened just 2.9 miles away from campus, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Chatsworth is notorious for its street racing, so much so that the area of the Canoga Ave. and Plummer St. intersection is now known as the Canoga Speedway, according to the same Los Angeles Times article. With so many students living near school and beginning to drive, this phenomenon can lead to safety concerns and fear in the minds of students and parents alike.
“I think the fact that so many incidents happen around our school is ridiculous and I don’t know if the school has the power to do anything about it considering that we have already had a huge meeting with Mr. Skrumbis during Monday morning meeting and the same exact problems continue,” sophomore Hunter Prabhu said.
The meeting which took place earlier in the year was one where Head of School Jim Skrumbis talked to students about the importance of driving safely.
“A couple of months ago, I addressed the students about driving and being smart and being safe. And I think that whenever with teenagers you can reinforce the notion that a vehicle is a deadly, or potentially deadly instrument and to point out to them tragedies. Two of them happened very close to school. One of them, the first one that took place right above the gym wasn’t a racing incident, but it was a speeding incident. They were speeding, it got out of control, and they hit a light post. The car caught on fire and one of the occupants passed away. I think whenever we can alert students to these sorts of situations, we underscore the importance of driving with caution, and obeying basic principles and laws that ensure safety better,” Skrumbis said.
In his address, Skrumbis demanded that students “slow down” and find a way to drive safely, so to not only protect their own lives, but also the lives of the people around them.
“It’s a horrible thought, you have to put yourself in my position for a second, I am not your parent, but I am in charge. And it’s a horrible thought for me to think about one of you getting hurt any time, any place, but especially in association with the school, with being at school, with coming to school, with leaving school. You need to slow down,” Skrumbis said in a speech in front of the whole school during a Monday morning meeting.
Even though the dangers have been proven, students are still drawn to the dangers of street racing. One sophomore in particular has raced in not just one race, but three.
“There is the rush. The part where you decide to get in the car. The place where you jump into the darkness only knowing you do this for passion. When you get to that stoplight, there is only one way to go: forward. Past, present, future, nothing matters for that 15 or so seconds. I know that street racing was bad, and I know it was against the rules, but there is something inside me that can only be quenched with the roar of an engine on asphalt going 100 mph. That’s what it was like,” a sophomore who requested anonymity said.
The punishment for street racing is that the driver of the car that killed those two people was sentenced to 12 years in jail. Not only was he put behind bars, but his car and the car of his opponent were destroyed. Along with this, they both lost their driver’s licenses. The punishments for street racing are not just for driving, but also for spectating as well.
“I think if they were made aware of the consequences of street racing. Either having officers come to the school and talk about it. These penalties range from the loss of your vehicle, your vehicle is forfeited you cannot get it back, you will be arrested, and you will be fined heavily if you are caught engaged in a street race. I think if students knew the consequences to engaging in street racing, or even been a spectator of being in a street race would deter them from participating in one,” police officer Season Nunez said.
Street racing can provide one of the greatest adrenaline rushes in the world, and for any adrenaline junkie, it can be an appealing enterprise. However, even though it may be appealing, the dangers of street racing are severe, and the consequences can be life changing.
“Street racing is dangerous, one depending on your skill level as a driver your judgement and perception could be distorted for many factors. When younger kids participate in street racing they’re not as skilled as a driver, they have not been driving the amount of years as older drivers. So their skill level, their judgement and perception is even more of a factor. and street racing they don’t have the ability to handle a car at high speeds,” Nunez said.
Although the incident that killed two people happened close to school, students feel as though it has little effect on their daily lives, and that racers would be better off doing it legally.
“I think that if you really want to be a racer, you should do it legally in like NASCAR or something, because street racing is illegal, and people can die,” sophomore Sareena Khanal said.