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California Senate Passes Bill Requiring Passive Speed Limiters

car going fast with speed limit road sign
CA Senate Passes Passive Speed Limiter Bill narvikk - Getty Images

California Senate Bill 961 (SB 961) was passed by a 22-13 vote this week requiring that 50 percent of new vehicles manufactured or sold in California must have passive speed limiters installed by 2029. By 2032, that percentage increases to 100 percent.

A passive speed limiter is a system that warns drivers with audible and visual signals when their speed exceeds the posted speed limit by more than 10 miles per hour. SB 961 applies to all trucks, buses and passenger vehicles manufactured or sold in the state. Emergency vehicles are exempt from the passive speed limiter requirement.

“California, like the nation as a whole, is seeing a horrifying spike in traffic deaths, with thousands of drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians dying each year on our roads,” said Senator Scott Wiener who put forth the bill. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety’s (OTS) 2023 Traffic Safety Report, one third of all traffic fatalities in the state between 2017 and 2021 were speeding-related.


This bill must now pass the Assembly by August 31. If it is passed and becomes law, it will make California the first state in the nation with a passive speed limiter requirement. However, they will not be the first government in the world to do so. Similar systems will be required in all vehicles sold in the EU beginning July of this year. Even here in the U.S., both the National Transportation Safety Board and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have recommended a federal passive speed limiter requirement be implemented.

A passive speed limiter is also referred to as a “passive intelligent speed assistance system.” In the text of SB 961 that system is described as: “An integrated vehicle system that uses, at minimum, the GPS location of the vehicle compared with a database of posted speed limits, to determine the speed limit, and utilizes a brief, one-time visual and audio signal to alert the driver each time they exceed the speed limit by more than 10 miles per hour.” If the system has conflicting speed limits in the same area, the higher speed limit is used. Hopefully the system will be sophisticated enough to determine when a vehicle is at Laguna Seca for a track day. A driver out for an HPDE day doesn’t want to be beeped at while heading down the Rahal Straight.

SB 961 is not a law yet, but we would not bet against it. It would also not be surprising to see other states adopt similar measures.

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