Car surfing, a phrase coined in the '80s, refers to the act of riding or "surfing" on the exterior of a moving vehicle, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC. Over the years, this dangerous thrill-seeking activity has not only become increasing popular among teenagers, it has also taken on many variations, such as ghost riding and highway surfing.
Ghost riding is when an individual exits a moving vehicle to dance, run, or walk either beside, behind, or on top of it. This dangerous activity was first popularized by Oakland rapper E-40's song "Tell Me When to Go," with its chorus "Ghost ride the whip"--the "whip" being a car. In the years following the song's release, teenagers have frequently attempted to emulate E-40 and other rappers, often with tragic consequences. An 18-year-old Stockton man suffered fatal injuries when his head slammed into a parked car as he hung out the window of his own moving vehicle in 2006. More recently, a 17-year-old Brentwood girl was attempting to dance on the footstep of her Chevy Blazer when she fell and was run over by the car, sustaining serious injuries.
Numerous accidents resulting in serious or fatal injuries have accompanied this dangerous trend: in Stockton, an 18-year-old slammed his head against a parked car while hanging out of the window of his own moving vehicle; he died from the head injuries he sustained. In Brentwood, a 17-year-old girl was run over by her own car after attempting to dance on the driver-side footstep. She survived but suffered serious injuries.
The most literal interpretation of car surfing is when an individual stands on the roof of a moving car. Last May, Malibu teen, Johnny Strange, made headlines when he climbed out of a BMW driving 50 miles an hour down Pacific Coast Highway to "surf" on its hood. Despite the public censure his actions elicited, teenagers throughout Southern California continued to partake in this dangerous activity.
Ghost riding accidents are devastating for everyone involved: the victims, the parents, and the drivers. In many cases, the person who drove the car that was being "surfed" or "danced" on is penalized by the law. One teen in Orange County was charged with felony hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter: a 14-year-old boy who had been riding in the teen's open trunk feel out, sustaining fatal head injuries. The teen left the scene of the accident but was later arrested and charged.
For the parents of a ghost riding accident victim, the toll the accident takes on their lives is often more than emotional. The injuries sustained in a ghost riding accident are usually severe and require extensive medical treatment, which can be very expensive. It is not uncommon for the parents of a ghost riding accident victim to hire a California injury lawyer to help them seek compensation from the driver for medical bills and other losses.
Ghost riding, highway surfing, and car surfing are dangerous teenage pastimes that should be reported to authorities immediately if witnessed. Reporting such occurrences early enough could save lives.