by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A California Democrat introduced a bill this week that would require automakers in the state to equip new vehicles with speed governors — devices that restrict how fast people can drive.
The technology, if passed under the legislation, would prevent California drivers from going 10 mph or more over the posted speed limit in any given area. The bill would mandate that cars and trucks of the 2027 model year or later that are manufactured or sold in California be installed with speed governors.
State senator Scott Wiener, a Democrat who represents San Francisco, introduced SB 961 on Wednesday to reduce the number of traffic deaths in the Bay Area and in California, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
“The tragic reality is that a lot of people are being severely injured or dying on our streets in San Francisco and throughout the country, and it’s getting worse,” Wiener told the Bay Area newspaper.
“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,” he added. “That’s what this bill will do. It’s very reasonable, and it’s an idea whose time has come.”
There were more than 4,400 motor-vehicle traffic fatalities in California in 2022, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. California was slightly behind Texas, which saw nearly 4,500 traffic deaths that year. The total number of traffic fatalities nationwide was 42,795, according to the NHTSA.
The National Safety Council reported that speeding played a role in 29 percent of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2021.
Emergency vehicles, including ambulances and fire trucks, would be exempt from the speed-governor requirement. The California Highway Patrol, while not exempt, could obtain authorization from its commissioner to disable speed governors on their vehicles in certain circumstances, according to the bill.