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Driver and Fan Safety: A Top Priority

Drivers and fans prefer to keep their attention focused on the track, while NASCAR works hard to make sure that is exactly where the action stays.

February 25, 2014
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Driving accidents are unavoidable in

racing. Fast tracks, faster cars and

aggressive drivers are ingrained into the

Article Photos

Courtesy of NASCAR

sport, and competitors wouldn't have it

any other way. But recent high-visibility

wrecks that have not only injured drivers,

but fans as well, have brought the issue

of safety back into the spotlight.

SHOCKING NUMBERS

An investigation by the Charlotte

Observer found 22 deaths occur every

year at U.S. auto races big and small.

Obviously, not all of these incidents occur

within NASCAR. In fact, no driver has died

in the racing body's top divisions in the

years since Dale Earnhardt's death in

2001.

That horrible accident was the

harbinger for many policy changes in the

sport, as NASCAR began mandating

head-and-neck restraints for drivers,

installing safer walls at tracks and

designing cars to be sturdier.

FAN INJURIES

Drivers aren't the only focus of

NASCAR initiatives. Last year's violent

Daytona crash during the Nationwide race

saw rookie Kyle Larson's car knocked

airborne and into a catch fence in a 12-

car wreck.

Larson walked away, but 28 fans were

injured as the car's engine and other

parts scattered into the grandstands.

Between 1990 and 2010, at least 46

spectators have died at U.S. racetracks,

according to further analysis by the

Observer.

POTENTIAL CHANGES

Many of NASCAR's larger tracks have

raised the height of their fences in recent

years, as the organization continues to

research ways to improve fan safety

levels. Recommendations have included

moving fans farther away from the track

and exploring more new-wave fencing

options.

NASCAR's Research and Development

Center has enlisted the help of external

safety specialists to devise and deploy

new initiatives aimed at ensuring the

 
 
 

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