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California Senate passes bill requiring speed assistance systems on passenger vehicles

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Announcements | Legal
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The California Senate passed a bill that would require 50% of passenger vehicles, motortrucks, and buses sold in the state to be equipped with a speed assistance system by the 2029 model year and all vehicles by the 2032 model year. 

SB961 passed the Senate 22-13 on May 21. The bill passed just before a California May 24 deadline that requires all bills to pass in the house they were introduced in to stay alive. 

According to the bill, the assistance system would use GPS data to monitor speed limits. If the system determines a vehicle is traveling at 10 miles per hour over the speed limit, a one-time visual and audio signal would alert the driver. 

Emergency vehicles would be exempt from having the system. An amendment to the bill removed language that would give authority to the Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol to disable the system on vehicles that meet specific criteria. 

ABC News reports that the technology is already being used in Europe and, starting next year, the European Union will require all new cars sold there to have speeding assistance systems. It notes that drivers have the option to turn the technology off.

California Sen. Brian Dahle told ABC News he voted against the bill because it doesn’t take into account people’s need to speed for emergencies.

“It’s just a nanny state that we’re causing here,” he said.

Sen. Scott Wiener, who introduced the bill, posted on X his continued support for the bill.

“The Senate just passed our first-in-the-nation legislation (SB 961) to require new vehicles to be equipped with passive speed governors — alerting drivers when they exceed 10 MPH over the speed limit,” Wiener said in his X post. “Studies show that this technology gets people to slow down. It saves lives.”

Language was removed from the bill that required the Office of Fleet and Asset Management to establish a pilot program with the system equipped on state vehicles. Data collected for a minimum of 12 months would be reported to the legislature annually. The department would have the authority to discontinue the program if it determines the program can’t meet the needs of the state. 

A previous version of the bill also required vehicles with three or more axles and more than 10,000 pounds to have side guards to prevent bikes and cars from being pulled under the vehicles during a crash. However, a recently amended version of the bill removed that requirement. 

Two other bills focused on speeding passed the Senate last week as well. 

SB1509 would give drivers 2 points on their license if convicted of reckless driving. Two points would be similar to the amount of points a driver receives for DUI and hit-and-run convictions. The bill also states that driving at speeds that exceed the posted speed limit by 26 miles per hour or more on a highway with a posted speed limit of 55 miles per hour or less is reckless driving. 

The bill passed 28-1 on May 22. 

SB1297 would expand the state’s speed safety system pilot programs to multiple cities. This would include placing speed cameras on highways. It passed 36-3 on May 20. 

Crash data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration earlier this month shows 18% of all drivers involved in a fatal crash in 2022 were speeding at the time of the crash. It also says speeding was related to 29% of all fatal crashes during that time period. 

Overall, 12,151 people died in speed-related crashes in 2022; a slight decrease from the 12,498 killed in 2021. 


Photo Courtesy of LordRunar/iStock

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