When some drivers accelerate from a dead stop, they take off with rear tires screaming. The maneuver is sometimes known as "peeling wheels" or "laying down tracks."

I have never understood why this type of start is so popular with some drivers. But I do know that from time to time I have received complaints from readers, and that subsequent conversations with police officials have brought thr response, "There is little we can do." So I was interested to read about a recent decision by the California Court of Appeals.

A man had been cited for violating a California law that prohibits an "exhibition of speed" on a public highway. His offense had been to accelerate "in such a manner as to cause the rear tires to lose traction" with the roadway. This was held to be a violation of the law forbidding exhibitions of speed. The man was found guilty, and appealed.

The Court of Appeals upheld the verdict. In doing so, it pointed out that accelerating in this manner causes "a diminution of the driver's control over the vehicle."

The ruling also cited the hazard to bystanders and to other vehicles from flying gravel. And it added, "It is common knowledge that the deliberate screeching and screaming of tires on the pavement are tension producers which increase nervousness in drivers and others, thereby increasing the likelihood of an accident."

I think the Court of Appeals was quite correct in citing the dangers inherent in peeling wheels, but I wonder whether other courts would agree that this practice constitutes "an exhibition of speed" - the offense that had been alleged.

If we want to make this kind of acceleration illegal, why don't we just write a straightforward regulation that specifically covers it?