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Proposed SAFER California Streets Package Aims to Curb Rising Roadway Fatalities

Cars on the highway in a traffic jam.

On January 24, 2024, California State Senator Scott Wiener introduced the Speeding and Fatality Emergency Reduction on California Streets (SAFER California Streets) Package.

This innovative package, comprising Senate Bills 960 and 961, aims to address the alarming increase in fatal car accidents. The rise in roadway fatalities since 2020 has prompted this urgent action to enhance road safety in California.

The National Transportation Safety Board's call for speed limiters following a fatal multivehicle crash in Las Vegas in 2023 helped motivate Senator Wiener's efforts. Their recommendations included mandating Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) systems in all vehicles to at least alert drivers when exceeding speed limits.

How will innovative speed-governing technology help prevent roadway fatalities?

A key feature of this legislative package is the mandate for certain new vehicles in California. That starts with the 2027 model year, to be equipped with "speed governors." These devices limit drivers from exceeding speed limits by more than 10 mph.

Senate Bill 961 allows drivers to override this function temporarily. Exemptions are made for emergency vehicles and other specific cases as authorized by the California Highway Patrol Commissioner.

Speed governors, or Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA), utilize GPS and in-vehicle cameras to regulate vehicle speed based on location. They utilize various methods to inform drivers when they exceed speed limits.

These include audible alerts, vibrations, resistance on the accelerator, or reduced engine power. With increasing vehicle data collection, manufacturers will need to ensure compliance with California's privacy laws, particularly regarding personal data and geolocation information.

Enhancing road infrastructure and truck safety to reduce roadway fatalities

The SAFER California Streets Package also includes measures for improving the state's road infrastructure. Senate Bill 960 mandates Caltrans to implement enhancements such as new crosswalks and curb extensions on state-owned roads. These improvements aim to increase safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and the disability community.

Additionally, Senate Bill 961 introduces safety requirements for heavy trucks. Trucks over 10,000 pounds must be equipped with side guards to prevent smaller vehicles and bicycles from being trapped underneath in an underside collision. These guards should provide protection for mid-size vehicles at speeds up to 40 mph.

Support and opposition for SAFER California streets

SAFER California Streets has received some support from street safety advocacy groups such as SPUR and Walk San Francisco. Fleet owners might also find the legislation appealing due to potential liability risks from truck accidents. However, opposition is expected from the automotive industry and some car owners who may perceive these measures as overly restrictive.

Contact a Bay Area car accident attorney if you were hurt in a crash

In light of these significant changes, it's crucial for Californians to stay informed and prepared, especially in the event of a car accident. If you were hurt in a collision, a California car accident lawyer at Clancy & Diaz can provide guidance and legal assistance.

We can also thoroughly investigate the crash you were involved in and gather the facts to support your case. Our goal is to ensure that your rights are protected and you receive fair compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other accident-related expenses.

We offer free consultations and provide legal representation on a contingency fee basis. That means you pay no fees unless we win your case. Contact us online or call our law offices in Walnut Creek, Antioch, Pittsburg, or Benicia to get started. We would be glad to answer your questions and help you explore your potential legal options.

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