In a move to combat the rising tide of traffic fatalities, California Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, introduced SB 961, a mandate that would require all new passenger vehicles, motortrucks and buses sold or manufactured in California from the 2027 model year onward to be equipped with advanced speed limiter technology.
This technology is designed to cap vehicle speeds, ensuring they do not exceed the posted speed limit by more than 10 miles per hour. While emergency vehicles would be exempt from this requirement, other vehicles could only bypass the speed limitation if authorized by the Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol, based on specific criteria.
The bill also makes provisions for drivers to temporarily override the speed-limiting technology, a feature aimed at maintaining flexibility in emergency situations.
"The European Union is moving in this direction & the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended adopting the requirement nationally," Wiener posted on X.
SB 961 is is part of the broader SAFER California Streets initiative, designed to significantly reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries across California.
This legislative push comes in response to alarming statistics indicating a sharp increase in traffic fatalities within the state. A report from TRIP, the National Transportation Research Group, revealed California experienced a 22% rise in traffic deaths from 2019 to 2022, outpacing the national increase of 19%. Further compounding the urgency is a study from the California Office of Traffic Safety, which found one-third of all traffic fatalities in the state from 2017 to 2021 were related to speeding.
SB 961 also proposes safety measures for large trucks, requiring them to be fitted with side guards to prevent smaller vehicles and bicycles from being pulled under in a crash. Additionally, another measure within the SAFER California Streets package calls on the California Department of Transportation to enhance state-owned roadways to offer better protection for public transportation users.
Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2019 vetoed a similar bill.