The New York State Senate today passed legislation that would increase penalties for unlawful high-speed car racing. Michelle and Jordan’s Law (S3732), sponsored by Senator Andrew Lanza (R-C-I, Staten Island), stems from tragic crashes involving suspected drag racing at excessive speeds which killed a 17-year-old Staten Island girl and a 5-year-old Queens boy.
Senator Lanza, Vice-Chair of the Codes Committee, said: “Cars driven by reckless or inexperienced drivers all too often become deadly weapons. Sadly, statistics prove that too many young drivers lose their lives on our roads every year and many engage in illegal drag racing or similarly dangerous activities. This bill would protect and save the lives of our young drivers, their friends, and the innocent bystanders who are often harmed or even killed by unlawful high-speed car racing.”
The measure passed today would help reduce speed-related fatalities by increasing the penalties for unlawful speed contests and races. Studies have found that speeding increases the likelihood and severity of a car crashes. The faster a vehicle is moving, the less time the driver has to react to a hazard and less time that other road users can react to that vehicle. A speeding vehicle requires more time and distance to stop and is harder to control.
In 2007, 17-year-old Michelle Arout of Staten Island was killed when a group of friends were involved in a high-speed car race. As the car she was in reached 95 mph, the driver lost control, slammed into the other car, then smashed into a metal post -- slicing the car in two. Michelle died and her boyfriend was critically injured.
In 2008, 5-year-old Jordan McLean of Queens was thrown from his aunt’s SUV and killed after their vehicle was struck by a suspected drag racer. Jordan and his aunt were driving on a known drag racing hot spot when two cars faced them head-on. After colliding with one car, the other drove off and did not return, and the passengers of the car that hit them fled the scene.
The bill will be sent to the Assembly.