Your Car May Soon Have to Warn You When You Are Speeding - The World News

Your Car May Soon Have to Warn You When You Are Speeding

Consider a common scenario: You’re driving on the highway, thinking about something that happened at work or what you’re going to eat for dinner, and your car starts beeping.

But this time it’s not because you’re low on gas or your seatbelt isn’t fastened. It’s because you’re speeding.

This could become a reality for all California drivers if the State Legislature passes a bill requiring new vehicles to come with a system that emits visual and audio signals notifying drivers when they exceed the posted speed limit by 10 miles per hour or more.

The requirement would be phased in. Half of all new passenger vehicles, trucks and buses sold in California in the 2029 model year would have to have these intelligent speed assistance systems; in the 2032 model year, they all would. (Emergency vehicles would be exempt.)

The legislation aims to curb rising roadway deaths in the United States. In California in 2022, more than 4,400 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes, or about 12 people every day, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety.

Speeding is a factor in one-third of traffic fatalities across the country, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The agency, which investigates transportation accidents but has no regulatory authority, has urged the federal government to require these systems nationwide, and supports California’s efforts to become the first state to mandate them.

Scott Wiener, a state senator from San Francisco who proposed the bill, compared the legislation to seatbelt laws, which were adopted by states before becoming federal law.

“It’s not the first time states have gotten out ahead of the federal government,” Wiener told me. “We have speed limits. They need to mean something.”

Though the proposed California law would apply only to vehicles sold in the state, it’s very likely that auto manufacturers would put the systems in all of their new cars, rather than go to the trouble and expense of creating different models for sale in different states.

Ellen Lee, an investigator in the Office of Highway Safety at the N.T.S.B., said the agency believed that the speed-warning systems should be one of a number of measures to reduce speeding, which rose sharply during the pandemic and has not declined to previous levels. The agency also supports speed cameras, which have been used in many U.S. cities for years but gained approval for some California cities only last year.

“We’re not really making too much headway on the speeding problem,” Lee told me.

Speed-warning systems aren’t a new technology. They have been widely used in Europe for years and will be required in all new cars sold in the European Union starting in July. Research in Europe has found that they reduce average driving speed, speed variability and the proportion of time that a driver is over the speed limit, Lee told me.

Several groups oppose the California bill, including associations of car manufacturers and dealers. They say that if California sets its own standard, it could lead to a confusing patchwork of regulation around the country.

“We believe that the passage of this legislation could lead to numerous unintended consequences,” said a letter submitted by the Specialty Equipment Market Association and other groups, who want more study of the proposal before any mandate is enacted.

The State Senate passed the bill, known as S.B. 961, by a narrow margin last month. The measure is now before the State Assembly, which has until the end of August to act on it.

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The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco has opened a new permanent exhibit to highlight the state’s uniquely diverse ecosystem, KQED reports.

The exhibit, “California: State of Nature,” is the first to be developed in collaboration with Indigenous advisers, according to the museum. The exhibit features Monarch, one of the last grizzly bears to roam the state, and a few displays showcasing the museum’s continuous efforts to restore and preserve California’s fauna and flora.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

Halina Bennet, Ama Sarpomaa and Briana Scalia contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].

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