New Cars Would Require Speed-Limiting Technology Under California Bill

An auto assembly plant in Detroit - June 10, 2021 (Getty Images)
January 25, 2024

A California bill would require new cars sold or made in the state to incorporate technology that limits the speed of the vehicle.

"This bill would require certain vehicles, commencing with the 2027 model year, to be equipped with an intelligent speed limiter, as specified, that would limit the speed of the vehicle to 10 miles per hour over the speed limit," reads the text of S.B. 961, which state senator Scott Wiener (D.) introduced Tuesday. "The bill would exempt emergency vehicles from this requirement and would authorize the Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol to authorize the disabling of the system on other vehicles based on specified criteria."

At a minimum, the device would need to use GPS to determine where the car is driving and communicate with a database of speed limits to ensure that the operator of the vehicle does not exceed the limit by more than 10 miles per hour.

"This speed limiting technology already exists," Wiener said on X. "The European Union is moving in this direction & the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended adopting the requirement nationally." He added that the bill and related legislation "will make California roads safer for all users & lead to fewer injuries & deaths on our roads."

Wiener's bill comes after 2021's bipartisan infrastructure law included a requirement that new cars eventually employ technology "that … passively and accurately detect[s]" a driver's blood alcohol concentration. It did not specify exactly what the device must look like, but it tasked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with handing down a regulation by November 2024, though it allowed the agency to delay the rule if it presented a report to Congress.

In December, the agency initiated the rule-making process and released a notice requesting information on technologies that would fulfill the mandate in the bill.