Drag-racing, tearing away from intersections and roaring mufflers may be part and parcel to a night of fun for some car enthusiasts — the problem is, it’s all a safety hazard, as well as a violation of the traffic code.
“We’ve definitely noticed an increase in the number of complaints we’re receiving for speed contests and reckless driving within the city,” Montrose Police Chief Blaine Hall said. “Those complaints are often generated by excessive muffler noise, which, when we investigate, turns into speed contests.”
As complaints flow in from residents, the MPD has begun stepping up enforcement, on Sunday catching and citing two juveniles on the San Juan Bypass.
“It’s starting to become an issue. We’ve received a number of complaints,” Hall said, adding that the complaints are not only over excessive speeds and safety issues, but noise from mufflers that have been altered to make them louder than their factory settings.
That kind of modification could violate the model traffic code or city ordinances pertaining to unreasonable noise. Law enforcement does not have to prove noise exceeded a certain decibel level, only that it was at a level that was harassing to another person.
“Of course we investigate each of these to determine whether it meets the ordinance. In cases where there is a muffler that has been altered so that the sound is increased, and we are receiving complaints, we will absolutely cite that individual,” Hall said.
Speed contests — drag racing with two or more vehicles — or rapid, unsafe starts by a single vehicle from an intersection or traffic light pose safety risks and are also illegal. Such conduct might constitute reckless or careless driving, which can bring citations on a first-class traffic misdemeanor and a hefty points assessment against drivers licenses.
“The main concern is they lose control of their vehicle and hurt or kill themselves or another innocent bystander, pedestrian or motorist,” Hall said.
The police also have noticed that a number of vehicles involved in speed contests also have altered mufflers.
“The MPD is going to look at this from a larger point of view and as several violations being committed — unreasonable noise, altered mufflers and speed contests,” Hall said.
The police are also on the lookout for window tinting that is darker than allowed by law.
“We see that as a traffic safety issue also, especially at night. That makes it very difficult to see other drivers and pedestrians,” Hall said.
“I think people need to be respectful of other community members,” he said.
Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.