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UHP: Motorcycle speed club one symptom of illegal street racing boom

By Mark Shenefelt - | Aug 12, 2022

Photo supplied, Weber Fire District

Emergency crews at the scene of a motorcycle crash Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022, on state Route 39 in the Monte Cristo area.

HUNTSVILLE — Two riders who suffered serious injuries in a collision of motorcycles on state Route 39 last weekend were participants in an unofficial illegal racing club, according to the Utah Highway Patrol.

One person suffered critical injuries and the second motorcyclist had major but non-life-threatening injuries in the Sunday crash, said UHP Sgt. Cameron Roden. He said the two were racing on a remote stretch of SR 39 in the Monte Cristo area when one overshot a turnout and slowed, the second rider plowing into him.

Roden said street racing has become an increased concern in larger Utah cities, as evidenced by crackdowns recently by Ogden and Salt Lake City police. But the unofficial rallies also have been occurring more on highways.

“They’ll block the road and have races, even on the freeway,” Roden said.

Lt. Cameron Stiver, head of Ogden Police Department traffic enforcement, said street racers have complained as justification for urban racing that there are no longer any convenient organized racetracks.

“We’ve done some blitzes on the racing issues,” Stiver said in a recent interview. “To ignore it would be wrong. If they want a racetrack built, they need to petition their community leaders.”

Salt Lake City police and UHP troopers did a street racing sweep on July 15-16, arresting 15 people and having 14 cars towed. Calls to Salt Lake police about illegal street racing rose from 71 in 2019 to 409 in 2020, according to a news release.

Speeding in general is getting heavier enforcement this summer in the wake of a new state law that makes driving faster than 105 mph an act of reckless driving, a class B misdemeanor. Roden also referred drivers to the Utah bail schedule, which outlines potential sticker shock for speeding. For instance, speeding at more than 100 mph, as well as 31 mph or more over the speed limit, carries a minimum mandatory fine of $720.

Speeding is involved in 30% of Utah traffic fatalities, Roden said. There have been 57 fatalities in the category so far this year. In 2021, there were 8,105 speed-related crashes, resulting in 109 fatalities.

In the category of motorcycle crashes, Utah Highway Safety Office data shows there were 118 crashes involving motorcycles in Weber County in 2021, including one fatality. Statewide, there were 1,163 crashes involving motorcycles, with 41 fatalities.

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