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The Orion

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Speed-less California

Senate Bill 961 seeks to implement speed regulators within vehicles, preventing them from exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 miles per hour
SB 961 would apply to all cars manufactured and sold in California beginning in 2027. Photo by Elina Sazonova from Pexels.

Senate Bill 961 seeks to implement speed regulators within vehicles, preventing them from exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 miles per hour.  

On Jan. 23, California State Senator Scott Weiner introduced Senate Bill 961 which would require new vehicles sold and manufactured within California to be equipped with a speed sensor, or governor, that would prevent exceeding the posted speed limit by no more than 10 mph starting in 2027. 

The National Transporation Safety Board began recommending the implementation of speed-limiting technology last year, following a 2022 multi-vehicle crash in North Las Vegas, Nevada that resulted in nine fatalities. 

The speed-limiting technology would use a vehicle’s GPS location, supplemented with a database of speed limits and camera technology to maintain the vehicle’s speed. 

Weiner said this measure is critical to saving lives and ensuring safer roadways.

“If the U.S. had made as much progress reducing vehicle crashes as other high-income countries had over the past two decades, about 25,000 fewer Americans would die every year,” Weiner said. 

Traffic fatalities in California have increased by 22% from 2019 to 2022, compared to 19% for the U.S. overall. In 2022, 4,400 Californians died in car crashes.

“There is no reason why people should be driving 20, 30, 40 miles over the speed limit, that’s just dangerous,” Weiner said. “The alarming surge in road deaths is unbearable and demands an urgent response. Preventing reckless speeding is a commonsense approach to prevent these utterly needless and heartbreaking crashes.” 

SB 961 will be heard by Senate subcommittees later this year. So far, the bill received no support from any Senator or Assemblymember since the Bill’s introduction on Jan. 24.

The streets within Chico most impacted by excessive speeding are Eighth and Ninth Streets, from Highway 99 to the railroad tracks Chico Police Department traffic sergeant, Todd Lefkowitz, said. He also said that the probability of collision-based fatalities is increased by excessive speeding. 

There are an array of variables however that remain unaddressed in this proposed legislation Lefkowitz said. 

As the leader of Chico Police Department’s traffic division, and having served Chico PD for nearly 30 years, Lefkowitz said cellphone use is the primary issue and is a greater traffic threat to the people of Chico than speeding. 

Lefkowitz believes this bill has been implemented with “poor judgment overall” despite the government’s good intentions. 

In 2023, five of the eight traffic fatalities in Chico involved exceeding the speed limit by 10 mph according to Lefkowitz. 

Chico residents have mixed feelings on the matter. 

One Chico resident, Rome Hernandes, said that such a measure was overbearing and that he, along with fellow automotive enthusiasts, would look to purchase a vehicle out-of-state if such a measure were to pass. 

Another Chico resident, Alice Gainsley, said that such a measure was a good thing. She argued that exceeding 10 mph over the posted speed limit, especially in residential areas, was not only dangerous and reckless but simply unnecessary. 

California Highway Patrol Chico refrained from commenting due to the bill having yet to be reviewed by Senate subcommittees. Officer Frank Valdepena did however say that on CHP-patrolled roadways, excessive speed is the primary factor for collisions in the Chico and Butte County area. 

California Department of Transportation and Butte County Sheriff‘s would not comment on impending legislation. 

Shane Aweeka can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Shane Aweeka
Shane Aweeka, Reporter
Shane Aweeka is a senior at Chico State, scheduled to graduate this May with a bachelor's degree in public administration and a minor in international relations. In September, Shane will begin working towards his master's in the Netherlands in a program focused on global political economy or international politics. He looks forward to contributing to The Orion’s efforts this upcoming semester and developing an understanding and appreciation for the art of journalism. Outside of school and work you can find him skiing or surfing.

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