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California Bill Proposes Physically Stopping Cars from Speeding

State Sen. Scott Wiener has proposed legislation that would require new car models to come equipped with technology to prevent drivers from exceeding a road’s speed limit by more than 10 miles an hour.

A California lawmaker wants drivers to stop speeding, and he wants to make it nearly impossible for your car to do so. On Wednesday, State Sen. Scott Wiener introduced Senate Bill 961, which would require cars models built and sold in California from 2027 onward to come equipped with speed governors that would prevent drivers from increasing their speed over a certain limit.

The technology would use GPS and a database of roadway speeds to prevent cars from going 10 miles per hour over the speed limit wherever they are. For example, if a highway's speed is 65 miles per hour, drivers with this technology wouldn't be able to go faster than 75 miles per hour. Wiener told SFGATE that the bill as written applies to all roads, but he expects it to be a topic of discussion. He said emergency vehicles would be exempt from the requirement.

If passed into law, the California Highway Patrol commissioner would have to grant exceptions based on "specific" criteria for vehicles to disable the technology. The bill does not specify exactly what would qualify, but drivers and manufacturers who met the criteria would be able to fully disable the speed control, according to the bill.

Wiener said this is the first-ever proposal to place the requirement on all cars and trucks manufactured in the state. He said it's the "most extensive" proposal of its kind.

The bill also proposes that large trucks and trailers over 10,000 pounds built and sold in California install side guards, a tool that would prevent cars and bikes from being pulled under trucks in collisions, Wiener said on social media. Existing California law requires rear impact guards on these large vehicles that are also intended to prevent cars from being swept underneath. Wiener noted on social media that the European Union already has side guard requirements.

Wiener, who represents San Francisco, said the bill is intended to lessen the number of traffic deaths and injuries. He said traffic deaths have risen by 22 percent in recent years and approximately 4,400 people die on California roads annually. Wiener told SFGATE that the rising deaths are "unacceptable," adding, "We know that speed kills and I think it's long past due to install this technology."

According to a July 2023 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one-third of traffic deaths are related to speeding and those fatalities have risen nationally.

(c)2024 SFGate, San Francisco. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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