Intelligent Speed Assistance System To Be Installed In New Cars

Last week on May 21, 2024, the state Senate passed Senate Bill 961 with a 22-13 . The bill mandates that 50% of certain vehicles, commencing with the 2029 model year, in California, be equipped with passive intelligent speed assistance systems. The bill further requires that all specified vehicles, commencing with the 2032 model year, in California, to have these passive intelligent speed assistance systems installed.

SB961 was primarily sponsored by Senator Scott Wiener. It was introduced last January 23, 2024, and was amended in April 16, 2024, April 30, 2024, and May 8, 2024, before getting passed last week. The bill was aimed at reducing traffic incidents, particularly traffic deaths with the help of these limiters.

These speed assistant systems, which can be seen as “speed regulators”, can be used to alert drivers through visual and audible indicators that get triggered when they’re driving 10 miles per hour over the speed limit.

Senator Scott Wiener, the bill’s main sponsor, stated that “California, like the nation as a whole, is seeing a horrifying spike in traffic deaths, with thousands of drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians dying each year on our roads.” He added that “these deaths are preventable, and they’re occurring because of policy choices to tolerate dangerous roads.”

Between 2017 and 2021, one-third of the traffic deaths were related to speeding, as reported by the California Office of Traffic Safety. Furthermore, in 2018, Berkeley SafeTREC reported that the highest number of speeding-related fatal and serious injuries in 2016 were in Los Angeles County, followed by San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Kern, Alameda, San Joaquin, and Sacramento counties.

SB 961 will require “every passenger vehicle, motor truck, and bus manufactured or sold in the state to be equipped with a passive intelligent speed assistance system.” The bill passed the Senate last week. It will move to the Assembly for further deliberation. For the bill to move forward, it must be approved by August 31.

“We’re sick of not seeing action by NHTSA [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration],” NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy told the Associated Press. She also added that speeding accounts for one-third of the estimated 43,000 traffic deaths that happen nationwide in the year 2021. This is consistent with the figure previously reported by the California Office of Traffic Safety.

This bill, once passed, will essentially help traffic enforcers ensure that drivers do not go beyond the speed limit. Furthermore, drivers cannot feign innocence and say that they did not realize that they are speeding because the car itself would now have a mechanism to remind the driver themselves through these mandated limiters.

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