Home » California’s Proposed Speed Limit Warning System Law Has One Big Problem

California’s Proposed Speed Limit Warning System Law Has One Big Problem

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California state senate has voted for new legislation that, if passed, would force every new car sold in California starting in 2032 to beep at drivers and display a warning graphic should they exceed the speed limit by at least 10 mph. While not a speed limiter, this nanny wouldn’t be able to be turned off, and contravening this legislation would violate the criminal code, should it pass. Needless to say, this is a big deal, and if you read into the actual Senate bill, you might find one major potential problem.

It’s worth noting that California’s goal isn’t without precedent. The European Union has mandated intelligent speed assistance, although it permits active systems that push back against drivers by modulating accelerator pedal control, along with systems that can be turned off. California, on the other hand, only wants to mandate a passive system that gives just visual and auditory alerts, but the alerts can’t be disabled.

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It’s easy to see a potential common-sense legal issue with the wording of SB-961, and it has to do with the fundamentals of connected cars. The bill refers to the proposed form of passive intelligent speed assistance as “an integrated vehicle system that uses, at minimum, the GPS location of the vehicle compared with a database of posted speed limits.” This would require all new cars from 2032 onward to have access to updated reference data, but what happens when a car’s internet connectivity is killed off due to network sunsetting like we saw with 3G? While the bill is written to provide leniency towards database inconsistencies, what if a car can’t access the database altogether?

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Under the proposed legislation, manufacturers would only be able to disable passive speed assistance on any vehicle “sold as an authorized emergency vehicle,” so this may be a backdoor for continued connected services support after the eventual 4G sunset. However, that fails to take into account what might happen if an automaker goes bust. Not every EV startup will survive, and if that data connection is severed, what legal area does that fall under?

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The concept of a simple speed limit warning is a good idea, but the proposed implementation of SB-961 seems like well-intentioned legislation lacking in execution. There are a few potential pitfalls that the bill doesn’t seem to take into account, but fortunately, it still needs to make it through the House of Representatives in order to become law.

I have a few ideas on how to fix it.

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Firstly, data from camera-based traffic-sign-recognition systems that are built into the car and don’t require any data connection should be the first suggested method for manufacturers to enable vehicles to “know” the speed limit of the road being traveled on. Admittedly, such systems aren’t perfect, but they are future-proofed against network sunsetting. Secondly, allow the passive intelligent speed assistance system to be disabled, but force it to be on by default every time the ignition is cycled. That ought to reduce pushback while still ensuring that the vast majority of systems remain in use.

There are some decent conceptual fundamentals here and it just needs a little tuning up, but what else would you expect when bureaucrats are in charge? Oh, and it’s worth noting that even if this legislation passes, it won’t curb speeding overnight. The average age of a car on U.S. roads is 14 years old, so regardless of how things shake out, there will be plenty of cars on California roads without audible speed limit warnings for years to come.

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Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
15 days ago

Yet more legislation that saddles everyone with an irritation that won’t do anything to curb the 2% of the population who are problem speeders causing terrible accidents.
This also ignores that as I understand it, many of our roads speed limits and speed limit setting methodology originated in a time where sporty cars still had drum brakes and bias ply tires, a modern minivan will outcorner and outbrake all but the hottest of ’60s performance cars. I hate to say it but I’d rather see more speed cameras-where speeding is a big safety issue-city surface streets.

Duke of Earl Scheib
Duke of Earl Scheib
15 days ago

Great idea to purposely distract speeding drivers.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
15 days ago

There is another problem… in some areas/small towns, speed limits are set to stupidly low levels designed to generate speeding ticket revenue.

That’s something that should stop and traffic/road engineers should be the ones deciding what the speed limit should be.
https://reason.com/2022/05/08/11-insanely-corrupt-speed-trap-towns/

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
15 days ago

I try to not speed. I also run google maps a lot with the speed and my speed on the display. I have seen a consistent 2 mph difference between the google maps display on my speed and my speedometer. (my speedometer is 2 mph higher) and also the google maps speed limit data is often missing or wrong when driving in rural areas.

Turbotictac
Turbotictac
15 days ago

I rarely speed, not even on highways where I generally set the cruise at 5mph over…but I would still disable this so fast if it was on a vehicle I owned, just out of principal if nothing else. I just have this natural derision towards nannying devices that makes me want to actively combat them. Then again that is also a big part of why I don’t own anything newer than 04. I want my vehicle minimally connected unless I am making the choice to have it connected.

-Tom-
-Tom-
15 days ago

When I was in California in January I felt like everyone drove the speed limit or just under. Like everyone had a laid back “I’ll get there when I get there” mentality. Maybe its on freeways like I5 north of LA that everyone speeds? But the driving around LA, Orange County, and San Diego that I did was very laid back making this feel like a solution to a problem that doesnt exist.

Shinynugget
Shinynugget
15 days ago

I was stationed in northern Japan for 4 years in the ’90’s. We drove in three Japanese vans south to Yokota Air Base for a theater wide Soccer tournament. Just one of the vans had a speed limiter device that was either installed by the military agency that owned and rented it or by the manufacturer. Either way it emitted the most awful buzzing sound from a speaker whenever we drove 101 KPH. So we had to drive 62.1371 MILES PER HOUR all the way to Yokota. For over 700 Kilometers (435 miles). Ugh. Of course the other two vans were frustrated as well as they couldn’t just leave us behind.
No thank you to speed limiting devices. One more reason to never live in California.

Scott Wangler
Scott Wangler
15 days ago

I hope I dont live long enough to see this implemented in my area. I suppose I could make it to the end buy not driving newer cars. The upside is it would minimize the impact of oppressive police enforcement and it would undercut government funding by reducing fines.

Spikersaurusrex
Spikersaurusrex
16 days ago

Do they really think people don’t know when they’re speeding? The worst offenders (most likely to cause a serious accident, IMO) are the people exceeding the average speed of traffic by a wide margin, not the 90% of people going 10 MPH over. They know what they’re doing and this wouldn’t affect their behavior.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
16 days ago

Just like warning buzzers for seatbelts – The desire is to make it unpleasant to speed.

Spikersaurusrex
Spikersaurusrex
16 days ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

When I read it I envisioned a single voice warning when you exceed the limit. I agree that a buzzer would definitely be more effective.

JIHADJOE
JIHADJOE
15 days ago

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVPZ_GkSx2Q

California just wants to be JDM AF

Vee
Vee
16 days ago

This would be extremely annoying for certain people as the wheel speed sensor would mean the speedometer for vehicles with larger wheels and tires (like Jeep Wranglers) would trigger this warning. A vehicle that hasn’t been adjusted for 35″ tires usually has the speedometer read three to five or so miles off the actual speed. And that isn’t accounting for sensor tolerance or just vehicle wear that can extend that to be up to ten miles an hour off the actual speed after just a few years of ownership.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
16 days ago
Reply to  Vee

Death-Wobble Jeeps w/ oversized tires probably shouldn’t be doing 80mph on the freeway anyway

Waremon0
Waremon0
15 days ago
Reply to  Vee

Going up in tire size reduces the number on the speedometer due to the larger circumference and distance traveled for the same number of revolutions of the tire.

Nicklab
Nicklab
14 days ago
Reply to  Vee

This would be a nightmare depending on how it’s implemented. I have a 2mph difference on my BRZ’s dashboard compared to Google maps GPS and speed trap displays, my wife’s Mini has a 3mph difference.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
17 days ago

It bothers me that disabling the system is a criminal code violation. Virtue signaling legislators forget the warning “never write a law you aren’t prepared to kill for”
A sure as rain in Seattle there will be no knock raids and deaths if it’s a crime. Make it a civil violation and forbid use of force.

TheWombatQueen
TheWombatQueen
16 days ago
Reply to  Slow Joe Crow

It did rain here today

MY LEG!
MY LEG!
15 days ago
Reply to  Slow Joe Crow

Just make it so a driver is presumed “at fault” if the speed monitor is disabled like blowing through a red.

AceRimmer
AceRimmer
17 days ago

If California really wanted to save lives and make driving safer, they’d revamp their driver’s licensing program so people actually were competent behind the wheel.

Also, my car displays the speed limit on the gauge cluster and is semi-regularly wrong, whether it be a 5mph difference or a school/construction zone or even freeway speeds.

Bottom line: it’s a shite idea.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
16 days ago
Reply to  AceRimmer

Revamping the licensing means that THEY have to do work. The legislators would much rather pass the buck to automakers.

Waremon0
Waremon0
15 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

Making the barrier to acquiring a license higher reduces the number of people who can purchase cars. A big no-no for auto manufacturers.

And the people who can’t drive will have to rely on mass transit, increasing demand and hopefully improving services. Also a big no-no for auto manufacturers.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
15 days ago
Reply to  AceRimmer

For f_ing real. I applaud this answer. The only rebuttal I can come up with, is sadly in the USA driving a car is basically a life necessity in many places and requiring better training ups the cost which as always will sit a lot more heavily on those who can least afford it. But that being said, I am still in favor of more rigorous driver education and testing requirements-especially as cars keep getting faster and more capable.

Andrew Lampart
Andrew Lampart
17 days ago

My guess is they’re using a GPS-based system because it would be easier and more palatable for voters to accept a mileage tax at a later date

Waremon0
Waremon0
15 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Lampart

*shudders*

Old Busted Hotness
Old Busted Hotness
18 days ago

Fearless prediction: There’s gonna be a whole lot of startup LLCs in Montana real soon.

Defenestrator
Defenestrator
17 days ago

There’s already quite a few for regular tax evasion. I assume they’ll just add this to their marketing.

NeverAgain4cyl
NeverAgain4cyl
18 days ago

Strange that no one mentioned this but the middle east gulf has a warning buzzer requirement at 120km/h. It’s not variable with the speed limit but for its purpose it works.
It is reasonable to expect a similar warning system that varies with the speed limit to also greatly reduce speeding into the buzzer zone.
If you think this won’t work do you wear a seatbelt? (at least while riding in front)
The majority of people do not regularly drive over 10mph over the limit so while a loud contingent of car and ‘freedom’ people will complain this will likely pass.
In 20 years this will likely be the new normal everywhere.

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