AAA Texas, law enforcement, impacted families join forces to combat fatal speed-related crashes

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(Photo provided by AAA Texas)

COPPELL, Texas (PRESS RELEASE) — The following is a press release from AAA Texas:

Dangerous driving activities, including street racing, so-called “side shows,” and street takeovers, have surged during the pandemic. AAA Texas and Street Racing Kills, a non-profit traffic safety education organization, remind those who want to participate in automobile racing to do it legally and take it to a designated racetrack.

In 2020, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers issued 451 citations and warnings for violations related to street racing. This year, multiple fatalities have been reported in several Texas cities as a result of illegal street racing. Street Racing Kills Founder, Lili Trujillo Puckett, is traveling across Texas with AAA Texas to raise awareness about the dangerous and deadly crime. Trujillo launched the non-profit organization in 2014 after her 16-year old daughter Valentina was killed by a young man who gave her a ride home and then engaged in a race with another driver.

“Speed kills and we know from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research that the faster a driver is going before a crash, the less likely it is that they’ll be able to get down to a survivable speed even if they have a chance to brake before impact,” said AAA Texas spokesperson Daniel Armbruster.

Racing in non-designated areas such as public roadways can be deadly for participants, spectators, and all road users, including other drivers, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. In fact, recent research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that even modestly higher speeds at the time of a crash dramatically increase the chances of severe injury and death, as well as cancel out the benefits of vehicle safety features (like airbags). Illegal street racing is speeding on steroids, leading to tragic, and avoidable, deaths and injuries on Texas roadways. In 2020, Texas Department of Transportation reported more than 1,200 fatal crashes related to speeding statewide, an increase of more than 15% from the year before.

“As parents we’re not supposed to bury our children. I decided I was not going to let my daughter’s death be in vain,” said Trujillo Puckett. “We have to create awareness of the dangers of illegal street racing.”

Since launching Street Racing Kills, Trujillo Puckett has met many other families who’ve lost loved ones to illegal street racing. Lori Argumedo lost her 23-year old niece Bethany in 2019, after police say street racers slammed into a vehicle she was riding in on a residential street. Argumedo is one of many who have joined Street Racing Kills as more innocent lives are claimed by the dangerous and illegal activity.

“It’s senseless and something that could’ve been prevented,” said Argumedo.

Texas lawmakers recently increased the penalty for those convicted of illegal street racing from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $4,000 and one year in jail. The new law also allows police to confiscate a driver’s vehicle if the driver is a repeat offender, intoxicated or causes injury or death.

About Street Racing Kills: Street Racing Kills is a non-profit organization comprised of families who’ve lost loved ones to illegal street racers. Their mission is to save lives and create public awareness about the dangers and consequences of illegal street racing. Lili Trujillo Puckett founded Street Racing Kills (SRK) in 2014 after her 16-year-old daughter Valentina was killed by a young man who was street racing and crashed while giving her a ride home. For more information and to view a map outlining the latest street racing-involved crashes visit streetracingkills.org.

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by researching their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research develops educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users.

(Press release from AAA Texas)

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