Boy racers have blocked off a section of the main Belfast to Derry road at Toome a number of times, as other young drivers performed various stunts in modified cars.
According to the PSNI roads around the scenic Lough Fea in the Sperrin mountains have also been blocked on occasions to allow ‘cruises’ to take place.
In the Mid Ulster Council area, Magherafelt district appears to be a magnet for high-powered cars from across Northern Ireland. Toome, Draperstown, Magherafelt and Maghera are the main problem areas which the police are targeting in a new crackdown.
Sgt Sam Young said blocking off the road outside Toome was very serious as it was used regularly by emergency vehicles going between hospitals.
Social media and mobile phones are used to organise the ‘cruises’ and tip-off those taking part about the whereabouts of the police.
“By the time we arrive the road has been reopened to other traffic,” said Sgt Young.
Social media and mobile phones are used to organise the ‘cruises’ and tip-off those taking part about the whereabouts of the police
The road could be blocked for 15-20 minutes to enable handbrake turns, wheelspins and doughnuts.
Sgt Young said to deal with the problem the PSNI needed more help from the general public.
While he admitted that members of the public do report bad driving to them they do not give registration details.
The driving public is also reluctant to get involved, fearing having to turn up at court and perhaps be called upon to give evidence.
“This makes it difficult for us progress the matter as we have no evidence to prosecute,” he said.
The new Neighbourhood policing team is behind efforts to combat anti-social driving as the PSNI prefer to call it.
The aim is to protect all road users and prevent loss of life on our roads.
So far this year six people have lost their lives on Mid Ulster’s roads, compared to seven for last year.
“We have been proactive in trying to get the safety message across to young drivers,” he went on. “Our aim is to educate not prosecute.”
He said a recent ‘cruise’ rally at Moneymore had been useful in getting the safety message across to young people in the 16-24 age group who are more likely to be involved in collisions.
But, he admitted, more needed to be done in order to reduce the number of crashes and to keep unnecessary deaths.
“We want to work with young people to ensure they don’t end up dying,” he stressed.