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Law-breaking groups take to U.S. highways for dangerous stunts

January 29, 2013|By W.J. Hennigan and Richard Winton

Video footage of mischievous motorists cutting across traffic and ripping a set of tire-smoking doughnuts has again hit YouTube, causing an uproar among concerned citizens and authorities.

The most recent videos, one shot in Oakland and the other in West Covina, show the latest in a string of incidents witnessed across the country as organized groups perform audacious choreographed tricks -- typically reserved for the most daring Hollywood stunt drivers -- on public streets.

Such events have also been reported and prosecuted in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta.

California Highway Patrol officials are currently investigating the two recent events.

One stunt took place in West Covina, where hundreds of motorcycles blocked traffic on the 10 Freeway as a man proposed to his girlfriend. Video was shot overhead from an overpass.

In another, a video shows several cars spinning in circles while holding traffic near the Oakland Coliseum Complex. Officials believe six to eight cars were involved in the stunts, which took place on the northbound lanes of Interstate 88, with several others helping to block traffic.

California Highway Patrol spokeswoman Diana McDermott said there have been no arrests.

"It’s extremely reckless, this type of driving," McDermott said at a news conference. "In no way are our freeway systems designed for this."

The Oakland Tribune reported that the stunt is stoking concerns that the city's illegal car "sideshow" problems are making a comeback. A sideshows is an informal and illegal demonstration of automotive stunt driving, often held in vacant lots and public intersections.

The newspaper reported that there have been 60 sideshow-related calls and incidents logged so far this year, compared with 170 for all of 2012. Illegal car stunts reached a peak in Oakland in 2005, when there were 700 sideshow-related complaints logged by police.

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