California considers bill to use technology to ‘govern’ car speeds

Taking a cue from a recent recommendation by the National Transportation Safety Board, a legislative proposal in California would require that new vehicles be equipped with “intelligent” speed restrictive technology to limit speed in specific locations.

If it were to pass, the bill, put forward by San Francisco state Sen. Scott Wiener, would require cars and trucks of the 2027 model year or later that are built or sold in California to include speed governors that would prohibit motorists from driving more than 10 mph over posted speed limits.

The speed “governor” technology relies on GPS data or car cameras to cap vehicle speeds based on where the car is driving. For instance, vehicles wouldn’t be able to drive faster than 80 mph on state highways with a posted 70 mph speed. In residential neighborhoods, for example, motorists would have to keep their speed below 35 mph on streets with 25 mph limits.

Several auto manufacturers, such as Hyundai, already offer speed governor features in their newest models, which some motorists utilize as a form of cruise control, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“We have speed limits, and they exist for a reason. And it’s perfectly reasonable to say you can’t travel more than 10 miles over the speed limit,” Wiener said. “That’s what this bill will do. It’s very reasonable, and it’s an idea whose time has come.” The bill exempts emergency vehicles, such as ambulances and fire trucks, and the California Highway Patrol would have the discretion to disable speed governors on their vehicles.

One factor motivating the passage of the bill are reports that speed factors into about a third of traffic deaths across the country, according to the National Safety Council. The National Highway Safety Administration estimated more than 40,000 traffic fatalities in 2022.

Last November, the National Transportation Safety Board, prompted by a multi-vehicle crash in North Las Vegas that resulted in nine fatalities, recommended that the federal government “at a minimum” require speed limiters in cars that warn drivers when they’re speeding.