Inside California’s Coming Fight Over Vehicle Speed Limiters

Excessive speed is a factor in over 12,000 annual deaths in the US, or roughly a third of all crash fatalities. Already a longstanding problem, speeding surged on emptier streets during the Covid-19 pandemic and has lingered in its wake. The traditional array of policy deterrents — police enforcement, PSA campaigns, and automatic speed cameras — seem unable to rein in the fastest drivers, who endanger themselves along with everyone else on the road.

On Jan. 24, California State Senator Scott Wiener introduced a bill outlining a different approach. If California Senate Bill 961 passes, the state would be the first in the US to require technology known as Intelligent Speed Assist, which uses GPS location data to adjust a vehicle’s top speed to reflect a roadway’s posted speed limit. Wiener’s bill mandates that speed limiters be installed on all new cars sold statewide by 2027, with the devices set to 10 miles per hour above the speed limit.

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