Street Racing: The auto industry needs to stop promoting speed!

Young people see street racing as exciting, a notion car companies and Hollywood promote. Somehow the ultimate carnage isn’t mentioned.

You’ve seen the ads. Attractive young people, slipping their sleek new vehicles into gear, careening around sharp mountain curves or downtown city streets. What fun they’re having, when their cars can go from zero to 60 in under three seconds!

Of course there’s the flip side. Roughly 46,000 people in the U.S. die in traffic accidents annually. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for people under 30.

And yet it is speed and daring that automakers promote, and those little tiny disclaimers at the bottom of the screen noting that “the course is closed,” and “the cars are operated by professional drivers,” are ludicrous.

An article in Bloomberg titled “Traffic crashes are getting worse. Car ads are part of the problem,” reporter Danny Harris pointed out that “marketing speed, power and reckless driving as a selling point for cars is part of a longstanding advertising tradition for automakers.”

Note that in 2022 the auto industry spent over $17 billion on advertising. Currently, an average automobile weighs a little over 4,000 pounds. Weight combined with  high rates of speed can produce horrific carnage. So the question is should car manufactures be treated like other companies that produce dangerous products.

“The U.S. has a substantial history of affecting how industries, especially those with harmful products, market their goods,” Harris wrote. “Advertisements for cigarettes were banned from American radio and television by an act of Congress in 1971. Billboard ads for cigarettes, including cartoon advertisements that target children, like Joe Camel, were banned in 1998 as part of a settlement. The alcohol industry has developed its own standards for self-regulation— a model the car industry could also follow.”

The Fast & Furious franchise promotes speed and reckless driving and our young people are getting the message loud and clear.

If the car makers cared, they’d find other ways to sell their vehicles. But they won’t, because speed sells. But let’s not put all the blame on the auto industry. How about Hollywood with its endless movie car chases and the Fast & Furious franchise which spouts the message that you’re only cool if you drive recklessly and fast?

That message is being heard loud and clear by teen drivers. In 2020, 2,800 teens were killed and about 227,000 were injured in the U.S. in auto accidents. The majority of these dangerous drivers are boys, especially those 16 to 19, who are three times more likely to die on the road than female drivers of the same age.

One of my sons was sucked into the street-racing world when he was young. Luckily, he was caught before anyone was hurt. That such a smart young man would think speeding on city streets was a fine idea is frightening.

I grieve for parents who get that visit from the police. And I’m angry at the stupidity. We know young people don’t always make the best decisions, so perhaps it’s way past the time for auto companies and film makers to stop promoting dangerous driving as something glamorous, as opposed to what might easily be a tragic end to a short life.

Find Anne Montgomery’s novels wherever you buy books.



6 thoughts on “Street Racing: The auto industry needs to stop promoting speed!

  1. sharonledwith says:

    My son loves the Fast and Furious franchise, Anne. The ironic thing about those movies is that Paul Walker, one of the stars, died while speeding. Makes one wonder. Great post which needs to be addressed in this world. Cheers!


  2. Jeff Leaf says:

    If we could only legislate testosterone. Young guys have too much. Old guys want to make up for losses. So, muscle cars. Muscle cars went away during the fuel crisis, but as soon as shortages abated, testosterone demanded that speed returns. Now, if we could only legislate good sense and intelligence, we could override testosterone. What do think the chances of that happening are?


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