California Bill Would Electronically Cap Vehicle Speed to 10 MPH Over Limit

If passed, every new vehicle sold in the Golden State in 2027 would have a top speed of 80 mph—road permitting.
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Everyone wants safer roads. However, California senator Scott Wiener wants “SAFER” roads, as that’s the name of the bill he proposed, which would electronically cap a new vehicle’s top speed to 10 mph over the speed limit, among other things.

Part of the Speeding and Fatality Emergency Reduction on California Streets (SAFER California Streets) bill published Tuesday would require all vehicles built starting in 2027 to have speed governors. As proposed, they’d work using a vehicle’s GPS compared with a database of posted speed limits, though speed limit sign recognition would seem to present another method. The text of SB-961 mentions that the electronic regulator “shall only be capable of being temporarily disabled by the driver of the vehicle,” but doesn’t explain in what circumstances a driver should or will be allowed to do that.

Other road changes in the bill include side underride guards on trucks, to reduce the risk of cars and bikes being pulled underneath in a crash; improved crosswalks; and curb extensions. These new rules are designed to counter a rise in reckless driving since the pandemic. According to TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit, traffic casualties in California rose 22% from 2019 to 2022, and 4,400 Californians died in traffic accidents in 2022.

“The alarming surge in road deaths is unbearable and demands an urgent response,” said Senator Wiener in a news release. “There is no reason for anyone to be going over 100 miles per hour on a public road, yet in 2020, California Highway Patrol issued over 3,000 tickets for just that offense. Preventing reckless speeding is a commonsense approach to prevent these utterly needless and heartbreaking crashes.”

State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) Kimberly White/Getty Images

There will be obvious questions about government overreach with such a bill, as it allows Johnny Law to reach his hand into your car and hold your pedal back. However, Wiener disagrees with that view.

“I don’t think it’s at all an overreach, and I don’t think most people would view it as an overreach, we have speed limits, I think most people support speed limits because people know that speed kills,” he told ABC 7.

Wiener added that no one needs to go more than 10 mph over the speed limit unless they’re in emergency vehicles, which are exempt from the bill.

Naturally, there’s going to be pushback on such a proposal, from both those fearful of government meddling and car enthusiasts alike. I’m also interested to hear what automakers think about the plan. You’d figure Porsche might have a harder time selling 911 Turbos electronically restricted to 80 mph, as that doesn’t really get the blood pumping. Hopefully the GPS would know to switch the finger-wagging off at a designated racetrack.

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