Can Speed Governors Solve California’s Road Safety Concerns?

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    Speeding increases the risks of road accidents and the severity of injuries sustained by the victims. Not only do drivers have less time to react in dangerous situations, but it can also lead to losing vehicle control under poor road and weather conditions. In 2021, this dangerous act of driving resulted in 1,509 traffic fatalities out of the 4,285 recorded in California.

    The increasing trend of speeding accidents and deaths motivated Senator Scott Wiener to introduce Senate Bill 961 (SB 961). This will require all vehicles sold in 2027 to have “speed governors” installed. These devices use GPS technology, cameras, and sensors to verify the speed limit in an area and will slow a speeding vehicle if it goes over 10 mph past the limit.

    Will this help reduce traffic accidents, particularly speed-related crashes, in the state? Will it make roads safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and other entities that share the same streets and highways?

    Speeding accidents often lead to fatal or life-altering events for its victims. If you or a loved one has been injured by a speeding driver, give our expert car accident lawyers a call at (888) 488-1391 today.

    How Speed Governors in 2027 Can Make California Roads Safer

    How Speed Governors In 2027 Can Make California Roads Safer

    SB 961 is Senator Wiener’s response to the increasing trend of traffic fatalities in California. Mandating Speed Governors or Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) systems in new cars from 2027 can significantly reduce speeding-related fatalities and injuries.

    Here’s how speed governors work:

    • Detecting The Speed Limit – Speed governors detect the speed limit of a road using GPS data and mapping technology. Advanced systems also use cameras to read road signs.
    • Controlling Speed – Once the system recognizes the speed limit, it can control the vehicle’s speed in two ways:
      • By Alerting The Driver – Similar to what Waze is doing, speed governors can alert drivers when they exceed the limit. This can be done through visual or auditory alerts. Others may deliver vibrations or haptics through the pedals or steering wheel.
      • By Limiting The Car’s Speed – More advanced speed governors can automatically limit the vehicle’s speed. This is similar to adaptive cruise control, where your car automatically slows down in the presence of a nearby vehicle.
    • Option To Override – Senator Wiener mentions that speed governors can be overridden under emergency circumstances. This is fairly critical as exceeding 10 mph, the speed limit might be necessary to avoid certain dangers.
    • Encouraging Safe Driving Practices – Over time, drivers using speed governors may develop safer driving habits. Being accustomed to driving within speed limits allows for better driving principles to be developed.
    • Less Speeding For Trucks And Buses – These vehicles can cause significant damage in accidents. Hence, by providing mandatory speed governors to trucks and buses, there will be fewer risks of them getting into high-speed accidents that can claim the lives of victims.

    What Are Californians Saying About Speed Governors?

    To alert, to control, or to not have it at all? The possible fitment of speed governors to all vehicles sold in California in 2027 has received affirming and opposing statements since its introduction on January 23, 2024. Some of these include:

    • “Drivers should have full control to speed up or move away from danger. Technology should not obstruct that.”
    • “Dangerous speeding kills. It’s the top cause of severe and fatal crashes in California. Vehicles are bigger and more powerful every day. Pedestrians are only becoming casualties.”
    • “Requiring speed limiters on all vehicles is a government overreach when the vast majority of drivers are not reckless.”
    • “More law enforcement and severe consequences should be the solution.”

    Similar statements and sentiments, however, have been made in the UK because of its mandatory implementation of ISA for new car models starting in July 2024.

    These are what transportation researchers from the UK found:

    • Advisory or warning ISA systems allow drivers to make speed adjustment decisions and have been shown to increase compliance with speed limits.
    • Universal adoption of intervening speed governors could reduce serious road traffic injuries by up to 29%, compared to 12% with optional intervening ISAs and 3% with ISAs that only give warnings.
    • Trials in high-income countries have shown that intervening ISAs reduces speeding significantly.
    • UK drivers are open to intervening ISA systems if they are optional and allow driver control.
    • Encouraging drivers should involve persuasive messages about benefits, including detailed system information, to address concerns and trust issues.

    What Motivated The Introduction Of Senate Bill 961 In California?

    Many speeding-related accident victims experience catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2021, there were 12,330 recorded traffic fatalities and 328,946 injuries in California alone.

    Beyond that, approximately 1/3 of all traffic fatalities from 2017 to 2021 were attributed to speeding. These are enough reasons to believe that speeding can kill and can also change lives for the worse.

    SB 961 is deeply rooted in the alarming statistics surrounding speeding-related traffic accidents. It represents a commitment to reducing the growing impact of speeding on California’s roads.

    Speeding-related accidents not only lead to fatalities but also contribute to a substantial number of injuries and property damage incidents. Hence, the bill is expected to lower the rate of related accidents significantly.

    Why Is Controlling Speed Crucial In Preventing Car Accidents?

    Having full control of your vehicle helps prevent car accidents for the following reasons:

    Reduced Stopping Distance

    The faster a vehicle is moving, the longer it takes to stop. Driving at controlled speeds makes stopping easier and helps prevent car accidents in case of poor road conditions, emergencies, or traffic signals.

    Another main purpose of implementing maximum speed limits on different roads is to abide by the average stopping distance of cars, especially in school or residential areas.

    Increased Reaction Time

    At lower speeds, drivers have enough time to react to unexpected situations. This can include a child suddenly running onto the road or sudden traffic stops. Having additional time to react can mean the difference between avoiding an accident and getting into one.

    Less Severe Injuries

    In traffic accidents, lower speeds generally result in less severe injuries. The National Association of City Transport Officials (NACTO) stated that a person hit by a car traveling at 35 mph is five times more likely to die than a person hit by a car traveling at 20 mph. The force of impact is directly related to the speed at which the collision occurs.

    Improved Vehicle Control

    Higher speeds make it harder to control the vehicle, more so in challenging weather conditions and road surfaces. By being in control of your speed and vehicle, overall, you can maneuver safely. You are also able to observe road signs, signals, and activities of other road users, which makes for safer driving decisions.

    Compliance With Traffic Laws

    Speed limits are set based on road type, traffic volume, and environmental conditions. As mentioned, this becomes more crucial in residential or school areas where pedestrians, particularly the elderly and children, are more common.

    Speed governors, or Intelligent Speed Assistance systems, may play a crucial role in improving the safety of California roads. It can effectively reduce the likelihood of intentional or unintentional speeding by automatically ensuring that vehicles adhere to speed limits. As such, Senator Wiener has deemed it necessary to introduce the idea of speed governors, essentially speed limiters, as a crucial step to reducing the risks associated with high-speed driving and promoting road safety.

    What Challenges Do Speed Governors Face When Preventing Car Crash Injuries?

    While speed governors offer significant benefits, it is also important to evaluate the range of issues that can affect its performance and acceptance.

    Here are its top five challenges:

    What Challenges Do Speed Governors Face When Preventing Car Crash Injuries

    1. Driver Resistance – Resistance of drivers because of their perceived loss of the vehicle’s control. This is often rooted in the perception that speed governors limit their ability to make dynamic decisions on the road.
    2. Inaccurate Date – Having variable speed limit data can affect the system’s reliability. Speed governors in 2027 will depend on accurate and current speed limit data. Any discrepancies can lead to inappropriate speed control, like slowing down on fast roads or being allowed to speed on slow roads. This can potentially cause safety issues rather than prevent them.
    3. Limited Flexibility – Inadequate capacity to maneuver during emergencies. The ability to quickly accelerate or steer away from danger is essential for safety. Speed governors might restrict such actions, which could even lead to a fatal car crash.
    4. Overreliance – Reduced attention of drivers due to depending too much on the system. Speed governors may consequentially decrease the alertness and situational awareness of drivers over time.
    5. Cost – Installation and vehicle costs may inflate due to the introduction of new technology. Hence, implementing mandatory speed governors by 2027 will likely lead to increased manufacturing costs. This will most likely be passed on to consumers and can affect the market’s acceptance due to high vehicle prices.

    Is The Maximum Allowable Speed Limit Of Speed Governors In California Enough?

    It might not always be sufficient, especially in emergencies. But under normal driving conditions, having at most 10 mph for a few seconds to overtake or change lanes may be enough.

    Fortunately, emergency vehicles are exempted from this rule. This will allow them to cater to situations where time is of the essence and speed is necessary.

    Implementations of ISA in the UK allow for the systems to be switched off entirely or temporarily during emergencies. However, it was discovered that drivers use the override function beyond emergency purposes.

    What Responsibilities Will Drivers Have Under SB 961?

    If the proposed SB 961 in California proceeds, drivers will have specific responsibilities related to using speed governors or ISAs in their vehicles. These are some of the provisions included:

    • The speed governor requirement for new vehicles from 2027 restricts driving to 10 mph over the speed limit.
    • The temporary override function can be used in specific situations and emergencies.
    • The discretion of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to authorize disabling speed governors for vehicles with specialized use.
    • The focus on safety in reducing traffic fatalities and enhancing road safety.

    Section 22350 of the California Vehicle Code (CVC) states that no driver should ride at speeds greater than what is “reasonable or prudent” concerning “weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway.” Under no circumstances should a driver engage in speeds that “endanger the safety of persons or property.”

    Should any violation of this mandate occur, drivers may face consequences that include:

    • Criminal Penalties
    • Administrative Penalties
    • Civil Penalties

    In 2027, criminal charges related to speed governors could potentially arise from:

    • Tampering with speed governors
    • Bypassing speed governor limits
    • Violating safety regulations related to the bill

    Speeding is already an infraction as it violates current provisions of the CVC. This, however, can get more complicated if it leads to a collision and causes injuries to victims. In this case, it can become a case of misdemeanor, or even felony, that can be punishable by fines and extended jail time.

    Can Speed Governors In California Be Liable For Car Accidents?

    Speed governors for new 2027 vehicles in California could potentially be held liable in scenarios like the following:

    • Malfunctioning Or Faulty Equipment – If SB 961 comes to pass, manufacturers are required to install speed limiters in newer cars sold. Should accidents occur because of faulty speed governors, manufacturers can be held liable.
    • Inappropriate Speed Governor Calibration – This can also be attributed to manufacturing error as there may be certain road or traffic conditions that are not suitable for the set speed. Data accuracy may also contribute to this issue.
    • Inability To Override Safety Features – Traffic accidents may occur if the speed governor prevents necessary acceleration in certain situations, like overtaking or avoiding hazards.
    • Driver’s Overreliance – Speed governors should have supplementary technology installed to avoid drivers being overly reliant on the technology.

    In the event of an accident, speed governors become an additional factor in legal investigations. As much as it can be held for liability, its technology can also provide data during investigations that can bring forth credible evidence in a personal injury case.

    What Is The SAFER California Streets Package Introduced By Senator Scott Wiener?

    The Speeding and Fatality Emergency Reduction on California Streets (SAFER California Streets) package introduces Senate Bills 960 and 961. Senator Scott Wiener explains how these Senate bills can improve the overall road safety in California. The following is a quick rundown of the two bills:

    Senate Bill 960:

    • Requires Caltrans to improve state-owned streets for better accessibility and safety for pedestrians, cyclists, disabled, and transit users.
    • Physical improvements like new crosswalks, curb extensions, bike lanes, and bus lanes must be made. This is in line with the national efforts to build “Complete Streets” that prioritize safety for all road users.
    • Set targets and performance measures for complete street elements in Caltrans projects.
    • Develop a transit priority policy to improve public transportation’s efficiency and accessibility and shift the reliance on personally driven cars.

    Senate Bill 961:

    • Requires the installation of California speed governors in all new vehicles sold from 2027. As discussed, this will limit vehicle speeds if they move over 10 mph the legal limit.
    • Installation of side underride guards on trucks to reduce the risk of severe accidents involving smaller vehicles or bicycles. Truck accidents that result in an underride crash are usually fatal. Hence, it was deemed as a necessary provision to the bill.
    • The bill allows for the temporary override of speed governors by vehicle operators. If implemented, this may range from a few 10-15 seconds to a few minutes.
    • Empowers the CHP to disable speed governors based on the specialized use of the vehicle so that it may not pose a public safety risk.

    Traffic accidents are one of the leading causes of fatalities and injuries in California

    California’s traffic laws are constantly evolving to be much safer for all road users. The negligence of a reckless driver is generally why accidents are inevitable. The key provisions proposed by Senator Wiener’s SAFER California Streets Package could potentially increase the safety of all road users by minimizing preventable accidents.

    What Injuries Can The SAFER California Streets Package Possibly Prevent?

    Traffic accidents are one of the leading causes of fatalities and injuries in California. By introducing the SAFER California Streets Package and speed governors in 2027, we can expect a significant contribution to lessening reports of the following injuries and damages if the bills come to pass:

    How Can The Speed Governor Improve Road User Safety?

    When speeding is involved, supposedly minor traffic accidents can escalate to severe injuries and even death. These incidents are highly preventable. However, reckless drivers continue to plague the streets of California.

    With SB 961’s introduction, here are some accidents that may be prevented with speed governors in 2027:

    California’s Statute Of Limitations For Traffic Accidents

    California’s statute of limitations requires victims of high-speed car crashes to file a personal injury case within two years of the accident. Even though it may seem long, our personal injury lawyers at Arash Law highly advise you to contact us immediately and let us know if you have a case.

    We discourage unnecessary delays for your case while evidence and witnesses are still fresh. This way, our lawyers can build a strong case for you and allow you to be compensated the maximum possible damages sooner.

    Why Should I File For A Personal Injury Claim For A Traffic Accident?

    Filing for a personal injury claim enables our lawyers at Arash Law to seek the full compensation you deserve. When you sustain injuries from any accident, especially speed-related, you will have to pay for care, support, medical treatment, and more. You fortify your entitlement to these compensations by employing the legal expertise of our personal injury lawyers.

    Contact The Reputable Car Accident Lawyers At Arash Law Today!

    By requiring the installation of speed governors in new cars in 2027, Senate Bill 961 represents a pioneering approach to improving road safety in California. This move, proposed by Senator Scott Wiener, is expected to save lives and make roads safer and accessible for everyone. Still, collisions and accidents due to speeding occur daily and are leaving hundreds to thousands injured in California.

    Liable parties must always be held accountable for the damages, pain, and suffering they’ve caused. Our team of lawyers, headed by Arash Khorsandi, Esq., has a winning track record of successfully resolving injury cases, leaving our clients satisfied with their compensation.

    Should you be injured in a car accident due to a speeding driver, never hesitate to contact us. Our line at (888) 488-1391 is always open to answer your inquiries. We work on a contingency fee basis, where you pay virtually nothing unless we win your case.

    Our dedicated car accident attorneys can guide you through all legal processes involved in your personal injury claim. They will help you understand your rights and stand before a jury to advocate for your justice and well-being if necessary. Reach out to Arash Law today by filling out our “Do I Have A Case?” form for a free evaluation.

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    DISCLAIMER: Information provided on this blog is not formal legal advice. It is generic legal information. Under no circumstances should the information on this page be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal action. Always obtain a free and confidential case evaluation from a reputable attorney near you if you think you might have a personal injury lawsuit.

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