Proposed California Bill Would Use Tech To Stop Cars From Going Over Speed Limit

A California lawmaker introduced legislation that would prevent cars from going over 10 miles per hour over the speed limit.

The measure is part of the “SAFER California Streets Package,” introduced by Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener Thursday. The bill, S.B. 961, would if passed require cars to implement “speed governors,” also known as “intelligent speed assistance” devices, beginning in 2027. These devices would limit cars’ ability to go more than 10 miles over the speed limit, using GPS technology or cameras to determine the maximum speed allowed in a given location.

“The alarming surge in road deaths is unbearable and demands an urgent response,” Weiner said in a press release Thursday. “Preventing reckless speeding is a commonsense approach to prevent these utterly needless and heartbreaking crashes.”

S.B. 961 would also make safety features called underride guardrails a norm for larger vehicles like trucks, to “reduce the risk of cars and bikes being pulled underneath the truck during a crash,” according to his press release.

Another portion of Wiener’s bill package, S.B. 960, focuses on the improvement of streets and sidewalks in the state including new crosswalks and curb extensions.

Weiner introduced a similar bill in 2019, which Newsom vetoed after it passed in the legislature. In a memo after he vetoed the bill, Newsom argued that it would have been “prescriptive and costly.”

“State roads — which are often main streets in smaller towns — should be safe for anyone wishing to walk, bike, or wait for the bus – and we can do a lot better by requiring things like crosswalks, bike lanes, rapid bus lanes, and safe bus stops,” Wiener said the Thursday press release. “Instead of leading the rise in traffic fatalities, California should be leading the nation in reducing needless deaths on our roadways.”

The National Transportation Safety Board has previously recommended the use of speed-limiting technology. The board said one-third of all traffic-related deaths, 12,330 fatalities, were caused by speeding-related crashes in 2021.

Last year, Los Angeles had more traffic-related deaths than homicides for the first time in a decade, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Despite those numbers, the legislation already has some opposition.

Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, a trucking industry group, told the Los Angeles Times that the technology is not the best approach to improving road safety.

“There are times drivers may want to speed up enough to switch lanes, to move away from certain unsafe situations. Our preference is for drivers to have the maximum ability to do that. We don’t think technology or even most well-intentioned regulations should obstruct that,” Spencer said.

KABC reported that the bills could go to the committee for consideration as soon as this spring.

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