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Scared to drive: Memphis city leaders meet with community to find ways to end wide-spread threat of reckless driving

Councilman Ford Canale says reckless driving is the single largest complaint that he gets through his office.

MEMPHIS, Tenn — People living in Memphis's Colonial Acres say drag racers and drivers doing doughnuts in the middle of the street, have terrorized the residential neighborhood for at least six months.

"I can hear them going up and down Willow (Road), up and down Colonial (Road)," said one long-time resident, who asked to remain anonymous for his own safety.

The man says the drag racing on Colonial between Quince Road and Willow happens on a daily basis, usually in the late afternoon when school gets out. He says it’s only a matter of time before these races end in tragedy. 

"There's too many kids and dogs and pedestrians walking around here for that to continue," he said. 

Colonial Road leads right up to Colonial Middle School, and the resident who spoke with ABC24 says he's seen cars tearing down the street going well over 100 miles-per-hour.

“They had to have been doing 110, 120 miles-per-hour before they got to the red light down there (at Quince Road),” the man said. “And there were kids walking up and down the street while they were doing it.” 

He says he has tried (unsuccessfully) to record video of the speeding cars. However, some of his neighbors are afraid of even doing that.

"Several people mentioned that they're actually afraid to speak out against what they're seeing or to even come out of their houses and videotape," says Memphis resident Leslie Taylor, who is speaking out on the resident’s behalf. 

After narrowly escaping a head-on crash in December, Taylor organized a meeting with Memphians and city leadership (including Memphis Police, City Traffic Engineers, Memphis-Shelby County Schools and the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office) Wednesday at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library to try and find a way to make their roads safe again.

"People are fed up, some people are scared,” Taylor said. “They don't want to live in a city where they feel like they're driving back and forth to work and school on the Indy 500."

Memphis City Councilman Ford Canale helped Taylor organize the event and hosted the community meeting. 

"People are scared to drive right now,” he said. “Especially our seniors, kids that are just now turning 16. If my child was getting ready to turn 16, I'm not sure that I'd give him the keys to the car."

Councilman Canale says reckless driving is the single largest complaint that he gets through his office.

"I've witnessed it personally and it's a behavior that's got to stop,” he said. “It's deadly and more innocent lives are going to be lost if we don't do something about it."

Taylor says she hopes the community meeting can accomplish three things: Have those in power hear citizens concerns; let the people of Memphis know what is currently being done to address the problem; and start laying the groundwork for a multifaceted solution with components that will likely include enforcement, ticketing and legislation.

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