BIRMINGHAM is the illegal street racing capital of the UK, according to newly-released motoring figures. Hollywood movies like Fast & Furious and Need For Speed might glamourise those who get behind the wheel to before drag race with opponents.
But in the UK there’s a specific offence for those caught doing so, titled ‘motor racing on the highway’.
If caught, you could be hit with a £2,500 fine, 11 points on your licence and a court can also order a complete driving ban. And there have been more prosecutions in Birmingham than anywhere else in the UK – with numbers accelerating way ahead of other highway motor racing hubs like York, Doncaster, Bristol and Peterborough.
That’s according to DVLA statistics provided to leading UK firm Select Car Leasing.(https://www.selectcarleasing.co.uk)
Mark Tongue, company director at Select Car Leasing, said: “You might think it looks exciting on the big screen, but there’s nothing clever at all about street racing in real life.
“It is, quite simply, one of the most dangerous things you can possibly do behind the wheel of a car. You’re not only endangering your own life, but you pose a fatal threat to every single person on the road, including pedestrians.
“If you want to see how your vehicle performs, take it to an organised track day - there are countless opportunities at dedicated racing tracks all over the country.
“Leave drag racing to the Hollywood stuntmen.”
The licence endorsement code for ‘motor racing on the highway’ is known as ‘MS50’. In total, there have been 45 MS50 endorsements in the UK since 2016. And there have been nine MS50 endorsements Birmingham in the last three years alone - with seven being prosecuted in 2016 alone.
The Midlands in general appears to be something of a hotspot too. Towns, Tamworth and Walsall also appear in the league of shame, with two endorsements each in the last three years.
Meanwhile Essex’s Braintree as well as Bristol, Doncaster, Peterborough and York have each also had two prosecutions for street racing in the last three years.
Select Car Leasing’s Mark Tongue says these figures are likely just the ‘tip of the iceberg’.
He explains: “If you’re caught street racing not everyone will be charged with just ‘motor racing on the highway. If the offence is serious enough, you could be hit with a ‘dangerous driving’ prosecution instead - one of the most serious road traffic law violations going.
“If convicted, you could face two years in prison as well as an obligatory disqualification and endorsement. As well as topping the danger charts for motor racing on the highway, Birmingham is also a ‘dangerous driving’ hotspot.
Stats recently revealed by the Birmingham Mail showed there were nine dangerous driving offences for every 100,000 people in the City - much more than the national average rate of 6.3 per 100,000.
In January this year Birmingham Police revealed footage showing them swooping on hundreds of people taking part in an illegal street racing meet-up on the city’s Nechells Parkway dual carriageway. And in 2016 Birmingham Council also launched a ‘car cruising’ crackdown - implementing a High Court injunction that bans anyone from gathering to race or perform stunts in cars, motorbikes or quad bikes on the city’s streets.
Offenders who breach the injunction risk driving bans and fines of up to £5,000 and can have their vehicle seized and crushed. Adults breaching the High Court Injunction can face up to two years imprisonment and youths can be fined and have their assets seized for contempt of court.
Speaking after the most recent swoops, Birmingham Police Superintendent Ian Green said: “This type of behaviour on our streets isn’t fun, it isn’t a game… it can have fatal consequences.
“And any motorist prepared to put people’s lives at risk by racing on our roads needs to accept they may well end up in jail. We’ve taken a really firm stance on street racers in recent years: hundreds have been taken to court and handed heavy fines and driving bans.
“Recently we’ve seen an upturn in complaints from residents and other motorists reporting anti-social driving. This operation should highlight that it’s an issue we take very seriously and anyone caught ignoring the injunction needs to understand we will take them to court - and the punishment can be very severe with offenders facing prison terms.”
STREET RACING LEAGUE OF SHAME:
BIRMINGHAM - 9
BRAINTREE - 2
BRISTOL - 2
DONCASTER - 2
PETERBOROUGH - 2
TAMWORTH - 2
WALSALL - 2
YORK - 2
BANFF - 1
BASILDON - 1
BONNYRIGG - 1
BOURNE - 1
BRIGHTON - 1
BROMSGROVE - 1
CORBY - 1
CRAMLINGTON - 1
ELLESMERE PORT- 1
FORRES - 1
GREENOCK - 1
LEIGH-ON-SEA - 1
LONDON - 1
MORPETH - 1
NUNEATON - 1
OLDBURY - 1
RAYLEIGH - 1
SOUTHEND-ON-SEA - 1
STAFFORD - 1
WOLVERHAMPTON - 1