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Cal4Wheel Opposes SB961

| Rose Winn, Cal4wheel Natural Resources Consultant | Access Issues

The California Senate Transportation Committee is currently reviewing a bill, SB 961, proposed by Senator Scott Wiener, that would require implementation of a "passive intelligent speed assistance system" on 50% of new vehicles in California by 2029, and 100% of vehicles in California by 2032. I wrote a comment letter on behalf of Cal4Wheel to oppose the bill, given that the immediate and long-term impact on Cal4Wheel members would be significant. Read the comment letter: SB 961 - Letter to Senator Wiener, Senate Transportation Committee

For context, the "passive intelligent speed assistance system" was originally written into the proposed bill as a device that would remotely, automatically down-throttle a vehicle when it was remotely detected (via wireless speed monitoring) to exceed 5 mph above the posted speed limit. The bill has been revised a few times to alter the language to require that drivers would be notified via a visual and audio alarm when they exceed 10 mph above the posted speed limit. A subsequent draft of the bill contained a pilot program that would require a segment of CA state employee vehicles (used for state business) to be outfitted with the remote/automated down-throttle device to create a pilot program to study the use of such device, with the intent to implement it as a requirement for the general public later. The pilot program was later removed from the proposed bill, however, even with these modifications to the bill, the implementation of a remote speed-monitoring device for the purpose of warning the driver when the speed limit is exceeded would still mean that remote-monitoring technology would be required for all street-legal vehicles in California... which would undoubtedly lead to future legislation to utilize that technology for remote, automatic speed control. So, while the current language of the proposed bill is not quite as austere and fascist as the original version, it is intended to achieve the same end goal.

SB 961 is relevant to Cal4Wheel membership given that most members drive street-legal vehicles for OHV recreation. Whether and how the technology proposed in this bill would impact drivers while traversing OHV routes is unclear, but OHV jeeps that are street legal would be required to utilize the technology if this bill passed, and would at minimum be impacted when driving street-legal jeeps on highways and urban roads. 

This bill was sent to Appropriations for a hearing on May 13. I will be tracking the bill and sharing updates as it moves through the legislative process. Please feel free to reach out if you have questions or would like to discuss.

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