Sacramento, CA – The California Senate has recently passed SB 961, a pioneering bill that would mandate the installation of “passive speed limiters” in all new cars manufactured or sold in the state by 2032.

Introduced by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), the motion seeks to establish California as the first state in the U.S. to implement this safety requirement, mirroring a similar law set to take effect in the European Union this July.

The proposed “passive speed governors,” also known as passive Intelligent Speed Assistance, would issue audible and visual warnings to drivers exceeding the speed limit by more than ten miles per hour, as described by Senator Wiener’s office. Notably, in the EU initiative, drivers maintain full control and can easily override the intelligent speed assistance system.

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Senator Wiener has stressed the urgent need for such measures, pointing to the substantial increase in deaths among drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists across California and the nation, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The 2023 Traffic Safety Report from the California Office of Traffic Safety revealed alarming rises in fatal crashes involving alcohol and drug-impaired driving, motorcyclist fatalities, and teenage driver fatalities from 2020 to 2021.

In a statement, Senator Wiener highlighted the preventable nature of these deaths, attributing them to policy decisions that tolerate hazardous road conditions. He emphasized the evidence supporting the need for action, citing an alarming surge in dangerous speeding incidents that put all Californians at risk. Implementing safety measures, he argues, is a crucial step towards saving lives.

Under SB 961, every passenger vehicle, truck, and bus manufactured or sold in California would be required to include “passive speed governors” by 2032, with a phased implementation of 50% by 2029. Notably, emergency vehicles are exempt from this speed governor requirement, clarified Senator Wiener’s office.

Following its approval in the Senate by a margin of 22-13 on Tuesday, SB 961 now advances to the State Assembly, where it must pass by August 31 to move further in the legislative process. If enacted into law, California would lead the nation’s efforts in utilizing passive speed limiters to enhance road safety and reduce preventable accidents.

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