Can’t drive 55? The latest busybody tech is here to help

News & Politics

Are you haunted by the sneaking suspicion that sometimes you drive too fast?

Not to worry. Once again the government is here to save you from yourself. Meet the greatest innovation in motorist safety since the irritating beep reminding you to buckle up: the passive speed limiter.

The computer may be able to diminish your engine power if it thinks you’re going too fast, but you’ll always be able to override it. Right. Because our public safety commissars would
never abuse this technology to implement kill switches.

Like all the best nanny-state innovations, this baby comes from Europe. It’s a system that emits audible and visual warnings when a driver’s speed exceeds the posted speed limit by more than 10 miles per hour. Starting in July, all new vehicles (including trucks, buses, and cars) made or sold in the European Union must have this technology.

Thanks to last week’s passage of California Senate Bill 961 by a 22-13 vote, we can look forward to feeling just as “protected” as anyone in the EU.

California’s requirement applies to 50% of all vehicles by 2029, rising to 100% by 2032.

Expect this to spread nationwide. Automakers aren’t likely to manufacture a separate line of vehicles just for California. And Gavin Newsom’s fiefdom has a long track record of throwing its weight around to influence national — and international — policy.

California has set its own emission standards for cars for decades, rules that more than a dozen other states have also adopted. And when California announced it would eventually ban the sale of new gas-powered cars, major automakers soon followed with their own announcement to phase out fossil-fuel vehicles.

“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 introduced SB 961. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety’s 2023 Traffic Safety Report, one-third of all traffic fatalities in the state between 2017 and 2021 were speeding-related.

The National Transportation Safety Board, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Automobile Association have also voiced their support.

The NTSB, along with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, is also pushing for a federal passive speed limiter requirement.

The bill next heads to the State Assembly, which has until August 31 to pass it into law.

SB 961 describes the passive speed limiter — officially designated as a “passive intelligent speed assistance system” — 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, it uses the higher speed limit. Let’s hope the system will be sophisticated enough to distinguish between a daily commute on the 101 and a track day at Laguna Seca.

The usual Big Government defenders have emerged to explain why these passive speed limiters
aren’t a big deal at all. Sure, the computer will be able to diminish your engine power if it thinks you’re going too fast, but you’ll always be able override it.

Right. Because our public safety commissars would
never abuse this technology to implement kill switches.


By the way, emergency vehicles are exempt — they already come with bells and whistles. Now the rest of us can pretend to be ambulances or police cruisers in hot pursuit.

Here’s an idea: Instead installing more invasive tech, why not teach people better driving skills? With the kind of comprehensive behind-the-wheel training professional truck driving schools offer, we make our roads safer without treating our citizens like children in bumper cars.

Or maybe the control is the point.

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