Passive Speed Governors May Be in all California Vehicles by 2032

The California Senate has passed SB 961, a bill mandating the inclusion of passive speed governors in new vehicles by 2032, aiming to improve road safety.

CA Senate Approves Speed Governors in All New Vehicles

The California Senate has recently passed SB 961, a groundbreaking bill that mandates the inclusion of passive speed governors in new vehicles. This legislation, led by Senator Scott Wiener, aims to improve road safety by alerting drivers when they exceed the speed limit by more than 10 miles per hour. The bill, which passed with a 22-13 vote, has significant implications for the trucking industry and commercial drivers.

Key Provisions of SB 961

SB 961 stipulates that by the 2029 model year, 50% of passenger vehicles, trucks, and buses sold in California must be equipped with passive speed governors. Full compliance is required by the 2032 model year. This system will use GPS data to monitor speed limits and issue a one-time visual and audio alert if a driver exceeds the speed limit by more than 10 mph. Emergency vehicles are exempt from this requirement.

Impact on Truck Drivers

For commercial truck drivers, this legislation could bring significant changes. Trucks are included in the mandate, meaning that by 2032, all new trucks sold in California must have this speed assistance technology. This system aims to reduce speeding-related accidents, a common issue in the trucking industry.

However, there are concerns about the practical implications of this mandate. Drivers may face challenges, especially in situations where they need to exceed the speed limit for safety reasons. Moreover, the system’s reliance on GPS data could pose problems if the data is not up-to-date or accurate.

Industry Response to Speed Governors

The trucking industry has expressed mixed reactions to SB 961. Supporters argue that the technology will enhance road safety by reducing speeding-related accidents. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have previously advocated for similar technology at the federal level.

Opponents, however, view the bill as overly restrictive. Senator Brian Dahle, a vocal critic, argues that the bill doesn’t account for scenarios where exceeding the speed limit is necessary. Additionally, there are concerns about the potential for drivers to disable the system, rendering it ineffective.

Comparative Legislation

California’s SB 961 is inspired by similar legislation in the European Union, which will require all new cars sold in the EU to have speed governors starting in July 2024. The success of these systems in Europe could serve as a model for the U.S., showing how such technology can reduce traffic fatalities.

Potential Nationwide Impact

Given California’s influence as the largest auto market in the U.S., the passage of SB 961 could set a precedent for other states. Historically, California’s stringent automotive standards have led to nationwide changes. For example, California’s emissions standards have prompted automakers to adopt similar measures across the country to maintain uniformity in their manufacturing processes.

If SB 961 becomes law, it is likely that car manufacturers will implement this technology in vehicles nationwide, not just in California. This could lead to widespread adoption of speed governors, potentially improving road safety across the U.S.

Legislative Journey and Future Steps

SB 961 now moves to the California State Assembly for a vote expected by late August. If it passes, it will go to Governor Gavin Newsom for final approval. Given the governor’s track record on supporting innovative road safety measures, there is a strong possibility that SB 961 will be signed into law.

In addition to SB 961, two other bills focused on reducing speeding have recently passed the California Senate. SB 1509 increases penalties for reckless driving, and SB 1297 expands speed safety system pilot programs to multiple cities, including the use of speed cameras on highways.

Looking Ahead

The passage of SB 961 represents a significant step towards enhancing road safety in California and potentially across the U.S. by mandating the use of passive speed governors in new vehicles. While the trucking industry may face challenges in adapting to this new requirement, the potential benefits in terms of reduced speeding-related accidents and fatalities are substantial. As the bill moves through the legislative process, it will be crucial for all stakeholders, including truck drivers and industry leaders, to stay informed and engaged in the discussions surrounding this important piece of legislation.


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