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Daytona Race Crash Update: Will Venues Act To Protect Spectators?

One of our recent posts looked at some of the issues that might pop up in the lawsuits by victims of last weekend’s Daytona 500 crash. This post will look at some ways that the American racing industry can act to prevent similar injuries in the future.

To start with, this is not the first racing crash to injure spectators. Nearly 50 spectators died in racecar crash incidents between 1990 and 2010. Some high-profile crashes occurred in 2009 at the Talladega Superspeedway and in 1999 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

These crashes prompted some scrutiny of safety rules – for example, the Indy Racing League required all wheels and other relatively fragile car parts to be tethered to the vehicle body. Similarly, leagues raised minimum height requirements for safety barriers from 15 feet to more than 20 feet.

Unfortunately, these measures seem to have failed in this instance. Not only did a wheel still fly into crowd but it may have gone over the fence – suggesting that the tether rule is not enough and that fences could be taller.

One proposal that could help prevent serious injuries is changing the position of spectator seating. Instead of putting spectators only 10 feet from the track and only slightly raised above the road level, venues could push the stands back about 30 feet from the safety barrier. This would have prevented nearly all of the risk of injury in the Daytona crash.

Source: Charlotte Observer, “Daytona crash could trigger track changes to protect NASCAR spectators,” Jim Utter, Feb. 25, 2013

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