California Considers Speed Limit Alerts for All New Cars

The state Senate passed a bill that would require all new cars sold in 2032 to notify drivers if they are driving at least 10 mph over the speed limit.


California is on the verge of potentially mandating all new cars alert drivers when they exceed the speed limit. This proposed legislation aims to significantly reduce traffic fatalities and could influence automotive standards across the U.S.

The bill is an amended version of the legislation state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, first introduced in January, that would have electronically limited the speed of the vehicle if it exceeded 10 mph over the speed limit. Gov. Gavin Newsom had vetoed a similar bill in 2019.

The amended bill proposes that by 2032, all new cars sold in California must notify drivers if they are driving at least 10 mph over the speed limit.

It passed its first vote in the state Senate on May 21 by a count of 22-13.

"Research has shown that this does have an impact in getting people to slow down, particularly since some people don’t realize how fast that their car is going," said Wiener.

The intelligent speed assistance technology relies on GPS to compare a vehicle's speed with posted speed limits. If a car exceeds the limit by 10 mph, the system emits a brief visual and audio signal to alert the driver. However, this system may face challenges due to incomplete datasets of local roads and recent changes in speed limits.

Despite the bill's passage in the Senate, it faces considerable opposition. Republican state Sen. Brian Dahle argued, "It’s just a nanny state that we’re causing here," noting there are emergency situations where driving faster than the speed limit is necessary.

The implications of this legislation extend beyond California due to the state's significant influence on national automotive policies. Historically, California has set stringent emission standards and influenced other states and automakers to follow suit. If this bill becomes law, it is likely car manufacturers will implement the technology nationwide to comply with California's requirements.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 10% of all car crashes in 2021 were related to speeding, with an 8% increase in speeding-related fatalities. In California, 35% of traffic deaths were due to speeding, the second highest in the country. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has also recommended federal regulations for speed alerts in new cars, following a tragic crash in 2022 caused by a driver traveling over 100 mph, resulting in nine deaths.

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