Leaders aim to stop illegal stunt driving on Memphis streets, interstate

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — One of the busiest travel weeks of the year is here, so the Mid-South can see tens of thousands of drivers on the road.

But with plenty of cars comes more traffic jams – and not all of them in Memphis could come from traffic.

Some could be from drivers doing donuts or the so-called slideshows.

It’s a scene the public is becoming familiar with in Memphis.

Engines revving, music playing, tires burning.

This time, it’s one Crown Vic doing the sliding and the spectators are parked upfront and on the shoulders of the interstate, stopping any cars from getting through.

For state leaders, it’s shows like this they’re trying to cut back on or eliminate altogether.

“Anger, it infuriates me that people are willing to put so many people at risk for their own enjoyment and their own pleasure,” said Memphis Representative John Gillespie.

“I was disgusted and unfortunately, it’s not the first time I’ve seen this kind of action,” said Memphis Representative Dwayne Thompson.

With the next state legislative session starting in January, Shelby County representatives say that they’re looking to propose and sponsor further action to hold these drivers accountable.

Gillespie said that he’s had success in the past with increasing penalties for reckless driving.

“We are looking at attaching some civil penalty to seize the vehicle pre-conviction for certain offenses, it would be that aggravated reckless driving and up, just blatant disregard to multiple traffic laws is what I’m referring to,” he said.

He also echoed a sentiment that Mayor Jim Strickland shared this summer, proposing to not only confiscate the cars of people who are driving recklessly but also to destroy them publicly.

“I’m fully open to the idea of a PR event, maybe outside of a Grizzlies game, park a car out there that we’ve taken and smash it up, don’t give it back.”

Thompson agreed, saying, “I think if they have to have their vehicles taken away from them, it’s a good step right there and just anything else that might be feasible and workable to make out streets safer.”

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, there are one lieutenant, two sergeants and 11 troopers stationed in Shelby County.

Trooper cadets started training in August to immediately begin filling the more than 20 additional positions funded this year to support proven crime prevention in the Greater Memphis area.