Videos of skateboarders using congested Southern California freeways as their own personal skate parks have gone viral in recent days, but local police are worried the stunts could wind up costing lives.
Skaters have been caught on camera ditching their cars in the slow moving SoCal traffic to hop on their boards and do handstands, catch some air, and even hang onto a nearby car for a quick tow.
The freeway skateboarders claim the stunts aren’t any more dangerous than other tricks performed at skate parks, but the highway patrol is warning the thrill-seekers to find another way to get their kicks, Officer Edgar Figueroa told KTLA.
“You don’t know what the other car is going to do… or if a motorcycle is passing. They could strike you and kill you.”
Most of the videos being circulated on social media show skateboarders on Los Angeles area freeways, but at least one was shot in San Diego County; the insane stunts have sparked the hashtag #FreewayChallenge.
The thrill-seekers have been filmed using freeway embankments as a half pipe and grinding down highway medians.
While most videos show skateboarders jumping out of their car and doing a trick or two before jumping back in, at least one shows a skateboarder crashing to the ground and landing on his head in the middle of a busy highway.
It’s that kind of accident, where injuries or mistakes can quickly lead to death, that worries the highway patrol, CHP Officer Jim Bettencourt told the San Diego Union Tribune.
“I’m all for having fun and I totally subscribe to that bumper sticker that says, ‘Skateboarding is not a crime’. Having a passion for something is awesome, but not at the expense of other people.
“If they were to cause a crash, then they wouldn’t be the only people affected. A life could be changed in an instant for something you just want to post online. And it’s not worth it.”
Simply being on the freeway as a pedestrian is already an infraction, which is below a misdemeanor, but a thrill-seeker who causes a crash with their dangerous antics could face more serious charges, according to police.
Police have been monitoring the social media videos in the hopes of identifying the freeway skateboarders, but they are more concerned with getting the word out about the dangers of the stunt, Bettencourt told the San Diego Union Tribune.
“Now that it’s out, everyone is aware of it. The entire CHP is aware of it, and officers are going to be even more vigilant.”
Skateboarding on the freeway is only the latest thrill-seeking adventure to pop up on America’s highways.
Motorcyclists have been filming themselves doing dangerous stunts for years, and in April a retired Los Angeles motocross rider became the subject of a police investigation when he jumped a freeway access ramp.
A YouTube video shows Topher Ingalls, a retired motocross rider turned real estate agent, wearing a suit and tie as he jumps over a freeway ramp and wheelies into nearby farmland where he jumps fences.
Other videos have caught drivers doing donuts in the middle of the freeway or racing through city streets, all things condemned by police as dangerous for the thrill-seeker and the general public.
Gaining a bit of fame on the internet, however, seems to be more important to these adventurers, and they’re not alone.
Last year, more people died from taking selfies in risky places than were attacked by sharks.
What do you think? Should freeway skateboarding be a crime?
[Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images]