Memphis leaders discuss reckless driving, possible solutions

Published: Jan. 11, 2023 at 10:55 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis city leaders met with citizens on Wednesday to talk about solutions for reckless driving on streets, interstates and highways.

“The reckless driving is out of control in this city,” said Memphis City Councilman Ford Canale. “I’ve witnessed it firsthand. It’s the single largest complaint I get in my office right now.”

Dozens of Memphians are looking to city and county leaders for solutions to reckless driving.

Leslie Taylor helped organize the gathering of minds at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library on Wednesday.

“It doesn’t just involve Memphis Police Department, enforcement,” said organizer Leslie Taylor. “It involves a legislative piece, there’s a functional piece of how we tag people and their cars. We really need a cross-functional team to look at all aspects of the problem and see if we can get a coordinated solution.”

Memphis police say there has been an increase in reckless driving since 2020.

902 people were charged with reckless driving in 2022, compared to 692 in 2020.

80 people were charged with drag racing in 2022, compared to 35 in 2020.

Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy says prosecution for drag racing has increased by 300%.

“We’re signaling to the community that we’re there and we’re not just concerned about those folks they’re riding around in Camaros and the Chargers and all those other heavy vehicles that cause problems, we’re also concerned about rush-hour traffic,” said Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis.

Lauren Geiovannetti lives near Highland near the Greenline, she says reckless driving is a weekly problem.

“They sit in front of our house―revving their engines waiting for the light to turn green and then they drag race all the way down to Sam Cooper,” said Geiovannetti. “It goes on every weekend and it’s loud and it’s dangerous and it’s unsafe.”

Councilman J.B. Smiley says they are planning to add cameras near this area of Highland.

Some residents wanted to hear more about what could be done now than in the future and to hear from the reckless drivers themselves.

All parties agree, there’s a lot more work to be done to crack down on the issue.

Chief Davis says 15 more officers are being added to MPD’s traffic teams and plan to utilize more unmarked vehicles to catch reckless drivers.

She also says they’re working to crack down on counterfeit license plate tags on the road.

Leaders at Wednesday’s meeting also say Shelby County legislators are also planning to introduce legislation to make drag racing a felony and seize vehicles involved in reckless driving.

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