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Street Racing & Speeding Is No Accident: The Death of Paul Walker 8

Paul Walker Crash Site

Paul Walker Crash Site – Photo courtesy of dfirecop

Last Saturday at 3:30PM, Fast & Furious star Paul Walker was killed alongside his friend, financial adviser Roger Rodas after a Porsche Carrera GT burst into flames after hitting a lamp post.

The loss of two lives is indeed tragic, and my condolences go out to the families of Walker and Rodas.

But crashing while speeding in a car that was designed for racing is no accident. It is negligence. Speeding in a race car on public streets puts your own life in danger as well as other people around you. It is fortunate that another driver, or a pedestrian or a bicyclist was not killed in this collision.

The untimely death of Walker has elicited much interest from the media and the public in general. But instead of condemning the type of selfish behaviour that led to Walker’s death, people seem to be revelling the very thing that killed Walker: fast cars.

From Hollywood Life:

Police are citing offenders and impounding the vehicles of fans doing dangerous stunts, like burn-outs, donuts and other racing acts where Paul and Roger Rodas crashed in Santa Clarita, Calif.

One of the outlet’s producers even witnessed people speeding at the crash site, burning rubber and peeling out to show their support for the actor and his race car driver friend. This is making a sad and dangerous situation even worse, since the drivers in question could potentially cause more deaths and car crashes in the area.

Driving race cars at a high rate of speed on public streets should be condemned. Race cars should be driven on closed race tracks. Period.

If we look at the facts leading up to this incident, it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. In fact, this does happen often: More than 34,000 people died in the United States in motor vehicle collisions in 2012. But these incidents normally do not draw as much attention, since they don’t normally involve a Hollywood star.

Here are some facts that led to this collision:

1) Walker and Rodas were driving alone at a “high rate of speed” prior to the collision

From CBC:

Accident investigators “have received eyewitness statements that the car involved was travelling alone at a high rate of speed,” the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in a written statement Monday. “No eyewitness has contacted the (department) to say there was a second vehicle.”

The two had taken what was expected to be a brief drive away from a charity fundraiser and toy drive at Rodas’ custom car shop in the Southern California community of Valencia, about 48 kilometres northwest of Los Angeles. Walker’s publicist said the action star was the passenger.

2) The collision site is well known for street racing

The street where Walker and Rodas died is apparently well known for street racing, since it forms a loop and consists of primarily industrial buildings, with very little traffic on weekends.

Paul Walker crash location

Photo courtesy of Google Maps

The burnout and donut marks on the street near the crash site are indicative of the prominence of street racing on this strip:

Paul Walker crash location

Photo courtesy of Google Maps

Paul Walker crash location

Photo courtesy of Google Maps

3) Porsche issued a warning about the Carrera GT’s power

From KLA:

A 2004 memo from Porsche headquarters explained how the Carrera GT should be driven and warned that not just anyone should be behind the wheel, because of its powerful engine and sensitivity to road conditions.

4) Rodas and Walker co-owned an auto racing team

From CBC:

Rodas, 38, and Walker, 40, co-owned an auto racing team named after Rodas’ shop, Always Evolving. Rodas was a financial adviser as well as a professional driver who competed in 10 Pirelli World Challenge GTS races in 2013. He finished second in rookie of the year standings, circuit spokesman Dave Drimmie said.

James D. Schwartz is the Editor of The Urban Country and is based in Toronto, Canada. You can contact James at james.schwartz@theurbancountry.com or follow him on Twitter.

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  • dr2chase

    No mention of whether they were wearing helmets. I didn’t start this tasteless trend, I might as well make a point.

  • http://treehugger.com Lloyd Alter

    I have been thinking about this kind of thing as the city of Toronto works itself up to the big funeral tomorrow of the policeman who was “ejected from his car” and died of head injuries. You are only ejected if you are not wearing your seat belt, but nobody has even mentioned that he couldnt have been wearing his legally required seat belt, let alone a helmet. He is instead a hero, dying in the line of duty.

    I simply do not understand this double standard, that a cyclist killed in an accident might be blamed for not wearing a helmet, whereas a cop who wears neither a helmet or a legally required seat belt gets a state funeral. Where were they for Jenna Morrison.

  • Guest

    Your condolences seem to ring a little hollow as you stand up on your box and preach about the selfishness of others as if you yourself were beyond any kind errors in judgement. This was an accident pure and simple – racing wasn’t involved. At this point, any kind of finger wagging is just dancing on their graves.

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      It is tragic that two human beings died.

      But you obviously didn’t read the article, so I will take the time to copy and paste the following text from the article:

      “the car involved was travelling alone at a high rate of speed”

      The car that was designed for racing was driving at a high rate of speed, in an area known for street racing. After crashing, the car burst into flames and there was only a pile of rubble left.

      Based on these facts, do you really believe that the driver was not being negligent? That he was driving under the 45mph speed limit?

      It doesn’t matter if he was racing another car or not (and the evidence indicates that they were speeding alone). One can still be negligent/careless by driving at a “high rate of speed”.

      That is no accident. Plain and simple.

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      Also, I had never said I haven’t made mistakes or driven carelessly or had errors in judgement.

      Furthermore, getting to the root cause of a tragedy is very common. When a plane crashes, it gets investigated and the investigators find the root cause of the issue and attempt to make changes to prevent it from happening again. That is precisely what I am doing here.

    • Sean

      Typical motorist thinking: it was “just an accident.” Carbon fiber doesn’t fall apart like that from a low speed collision.

  • Claire

    There has been no proof of what speed they were travelling. Just hearsay and speculation. Maybe you should wait until the investigation is concluded before posting sanctimonious stuff like this. And I cycle every day but your lack of respect is incredible.

    • Sean

      Look at the picture– that is a carbon fiber car. It wouldn’t have broken like that at low speeds. Use your brain for something other than a hat rack.