BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — One couple visiting Birmingham got more than they bargained for when they came for a visit over the weekend.
Instead of the welcome wagon, they were greeted with a slew of wannabe street racers outside their hotel.
On Saturday night, Adam Tanielian, an Ole Miss graduate student, and his wife were in town for some concerts, staying at the Holiday Inn near the airport, when they heard engines screeching across the street below around midnight.
“This was a new experience for me to see such a thing happening at a live intersection with people entering the intersection, making turns,” Tanielian said.
He saw a crowd form as cars raced and did donuts with people hanging from the windows — an incident now known as “exhibition driving.”
He said this went on for about half an hour until police arrived, and the drivers sped off and scattered. The ordeal was disconcerting for him and especially for his wife who’s from outside the U.S.
“That was seriously dangerous … The people hanging out the windows could have been thrown and killed, the pedestrians who were standing and video recording in the intersection could have been hit and killed,” Tanielian said.
Birmingham Police Chief Scott Thurmond said there’s no place for this recklessness on city streets. He emphasized it’s easier to handle this problem before it begins, especially ahead of the summer when it’s more common.
“The key there is to stop that behavior from occurring. It’s hard to, when you have a large group like that, you can’t stop every single person,” Thurmond said on officers responding to calls for exhibition driving.
“It’s frustrating for city officials, it’s frustrating for business owners and residents alike,” said Birmingham city councilor Hunter Williams.
Williams also serves on the council’s public safety committee. Recently, they added dozens of speed bumps in strategic places throughout Birmingham, whereas on the state level, both the Alabama House and Senate have recently passed bills banning exhibition driving and increasing the penalties for exhibition drivers.
However, Williams pointed out, they need your help to permanently curb this dangerous driving too.
“It’s extremely hard for municipalities, specifically local police, to enforce … We need the community to help us put an end to this,” Williams said.