DETROIT — Drifting videos have become a social media phenomenon. In the videos, drivers slide their cars across the pavement, burning out tires and spinning donuts — sometimes shutting down highways and blocking traffic to do so.
It's an issue that the Detroit police have been fighting for years. Now, the department is hoping to cut a deal with drifters in hopes of keeping people safe.
"When you really think about it, what makes it criminal if it's done in a safe way, in a safe location," Detroit Police Chief James Craig said. "It really is about safety. We want to work very quickly to find a place where they can have an opportunity to drift, certainly, in a safe way."
Some drivers, including Daryl Hairston and Will Quarles with a driving collective called Tripmode Active, say they're open to working with the police.
"It's a mutual agreement. We're tired of running and tired of them chasing us," Hairston said.
Hairston, Quarles and about two dozen other drivers have met twice with Detroit police in the hopes of securing a piece of property where they can do donuts, drift, and slide while keeping spectators safe.
Quarles and Hairston said most drivers are against anyone forcing traffic on freeways and intersections to a halt, and they are working on spreading the message that it's not acceptable to interrupt traffic.
"We're not trying to get in anyone's way," Hairston said. "We're just really trying to have fun."
"Street takeovers and freeway takeovers, it's not safe for nobody," Quarles said.
Another driver who wished to remain anonymous said that they are keeping their promise to Craig. The young man went on to say that they are looking at things "for the better."
Craig said there are four proposed locations police could allow drivers to use, but they are still hammering out issues that include liability, noise concerns and ownership.
Craig said he is not caving in to drivers who have brought freeway traffic to a halt. He said the agreement is about public safety — both to the public and his officers.
Craig also said his department has not seen any shootings when the drivers who drift and do donuts and ATV riders congregate, attributing it to senior members of the groups who keep a lid on anything getting out of control.
"It's always been a way to stop the violence," Hairston said.
Craig said he's included representatives from the automakers in on the discussions because of a broader vision that could include major events that feature the drivers and their skills and techniques in a safe environment.
"They don't have any place to go. They're going to do it. We know that," Craig said. "We want to be part of the solution."