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Transportation and Mobility

‘Fast And Injurious': Angelenos Say City, Film Franchise Owners Need To Do More To Curb Dangerous Street Racing

Black tire marks in swirling shapes mark the asphalt at the intersection in front of a gray brick store with a white and red sign that says Food Market.
In "The Fast and the Furious," Vin Diesel's character Dominic Toretto owns this Angelino Heights market.
(Mariana Dale
/
LAist)
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Tire marks tattoo the streets outside the Angelino Heights corner market made famous by The Fast and the Furious movies.

The latest installment began filming in the neighborhood on Friday, while residents and street safety advocates protested. In a news conference, they said the car-centric franchise glorifies dangerous driving, which is especially problematic given the prevalence of traffic violence on Los Angeles streets.

In recent years, the number of people killed in car crashes has risen sharply. Last year was the deadliest in almost two decades, with nearly 300 people killed in collisions. About half of those victims were people walking or biking who were killed by drivers.

While street takeovers and racing are not to blame for the majority of those deaths, residents and advocates argue that the films promote speeding and other risky driving choices, which has had a powerful influence on some car lovers. Add to that decades of street design choices that prioritize wide roads and high speeds and the results are predictably deadly.

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“This community needs to be made safe,” said Damian Kevitt, executive director of Streets Are For Everyone. “We are not trying to stop Hollywood, but Hollywood needs to be made responsible for its actions.”

Rising Street Takeovers

As the L.A. Times has reported, L.A. Police Department data shows street takeovers increased 41% in the first six months of 2022 compared to the previous year.

Bella, who declined to give her last name, has lived here for 17 years and said cars screech by her home at all hours of the day. Her 12-year-old daughter won’t play in the front yard.

"She sees this in the daytime — that car literally spins out of control in front of her home,” Bella said. “And wonders ‘Is that car gonna go flying in my house?'"

One protester held a sign that read “Fast and Injurious,” but most carried photos of people allegedly killed by street racing, including of 16-year-old Valentina D'Alessandro who died in a 2013 Wilmington crash.

“The driver that killed my daughter changed my life forever,” Valentina’s mom, Lili Trujillo Puckett, said Friday. She founded Street Racing Kills, a nonprofit that offers scholarships, a mentorship program for reckless drivers and presentations about traffic safety for schools and community events.

What The Protesters Want

Among protesters' demands:

  • that NBC Universal, which owns the movie franchise, invest in related community education programs; 
  • that the city of L.A. redesign roads in the community to deter street racing
  • stronger leadership from local and state officials to hold dangerous drivers accountable.
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A woman in a white spaghetti strap tank top with thin black stripes holds a sign that says "Killer Street Racing" in red letters with an image of a crushed car front. A man in a navy blue shirt stands to her left.
Bella and her husband Rene said Angelino Heights is a beautiful area with historic homes and longterm residents, but "now it's like, you're frustrated, you're angry... you're more concerned about what's wrong than what's good."
(Mariana Dale
/
LAist)

“This doesn't mean spending millions more on police to try to catch up with street racing,” the letter from advocates states, suggesting alternatives like automated speed cameras, pricier fines for impounded vehicles and revoking driver’s licenses of repeat offenders.

In a March report, city staff suggested changes ranging from rumble strips to speed tables, which are extended speed humps; the latter cost up to $50,000 for a set of two.

The city of Compton added ceramic bumps to several intersections earlier this month to discourage cars from spinning in smoky circles, but videos posted to Instagram show that did little to deter takeovers.

Fast and Furious actor Paul Walker died in a 2013 crash after the Porsche he was riding in slammed into a pole and a tree. Authorities said the crash was due to unsafe speed — traveling as fast as 93 mph in a zone with a speed limit of less than half that. The car was on a Santa Clarita street that California Highway Patrol has referred to as a “hot spot for street racers.

Walker had been in the middle of shooting scenes for Furious 7. That movie went on to be the 10th highest grossing movie of all time.

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