EDITORIAL : THE RACE IS STILL ON

anguillian
By anguillian March 21, 2017 12:02

 

 

I am almost certain that if we were to conduct a national poll on the sport of drag racing, we would find that our country is divided on this issue. I am confident, but less certain, that we may find that those divisions can be attributed either to age or gender. The question we must ask ourselves is what should be done where this sport is concerned? We are all aware that drag racing is illegal on the streets of Anguilla. We are all also aware that, despite this, many persons (especially young men) modify their cars for racing and organise races on our streets – usually in the early morning hours when they anticipate the streets will be empty and the police otherwise engaged. There is such an interest in the sport, among our young men, that this practice is unlikely to discontinue despite the best efforts of our police force. The unfortunate reality is that engaging in this practice puts the lives of the members of the public and of the racers themselves at risk. A drag racing accident on our streets can have disastrous consequences for other road users and even nearby residents.

I have been made aware that the Anguilla Drag Racing Association has, for some time, approached Government to assist with the development of a race track where the sport can be carried on in a safe and controlled environment. It seems that property in the Corito area was identified as a potential site for the track. I am not sure how far along these plans are but I must applaud the Association for its initiative. Several of its members travel overseas to represent Anguilla in races on tracks built for that purpose by the Governments of Nevis and Antigua, for example. From all accounts, they do quite well. I am not certain, however, that the majority of our population would want Government to invest in a race track. In fact, many may be of the view that the provision of the track is akin to granting permission to commit suicide. However, being mindful of the danger posed to the general public when races are conducted on our streets, a race track may be something Government needs to give serious consideration to. I am of the view that, despite the associated dangers, this sport is here to stay. We therefore need to come to grips with what can be done to make it safe for the participants and the public.

I believe it is the responsibility of the Anguilla Drag Racing Association to continue to lobby Government for the provision of a proper facility. It seems to me that it is also the Association’s responsibility to promote good safety practices among drag racers. By nature, drag racing is a high risk sport. A person does not become a drag racer simply by sitting behind the wheel of a high powered car. Persons must be trained to handle cars at those astronomical speeds. They must understand that they must always wear appropriate gear to protect themselves from injury, and the cars themselves must be designed and constructed to protect the driver from injury in the event of a collision. Unless the car is designed to accommodate and protect a passenger, passengers should be absolutely prohibited. If, as a country, we are to support the cause of the drag racing community, there should be some demonstration that drag racers are acting responsibly and making the safety of themselves and others a priority. Perhaps the Association can make some efforts to sensitize the public about the sport and the safety procedures that must be adhered to by participants.

Any facility that is constructed for the sport must have the supporting resources and infrastructure to prevent or deal with accidents. In its design, consideration must also be given to mitigating any potential negative impacts on the community in which it is located. A proper maintenance and repair plan must be in place – as well as appropriate protection for spectators. I am sure there are many more issues that would need to be worked out. The point is that the provision of a facility of this nature is not simply a matter of laying down a race strip. All this would accomplish is the relocation of the problem. If the safety issues are to be adequately addressed, then the supporting structures must be in place. What are drag racers to do in the interim? I am not sure how to answer this question. However, I would say that they ought to obey the law, act responsibly and not put their lives and the lives of others at risk.

anguillian
By anguillian March 21, 2017 12:02

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