California Legislation Introduced to Help Create Safer Roads and Reduce Road Fatalities

By Olivia Biliunas and Jonathan Nunez

SACRAMENTO, CA – Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced the Senate Bills 960 and 961, the Speeding and Fatality Emergency Reduction on California Streets (SAFER California Streets) Package in an effort to make California roads and cars safer and accessible to users.

According to TRIP, a national transportation research group, “Traffic fatalities in California have increased by 22 percent from 2019 to 2022, compared to 19 percent for the U.S. overall.”

Although this jump may seem minimal, a recent report from the New York Times suggests that “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.”

It’s because of this national problem that Sen. Wiener said he has taken a step to combat this problem.

Senate Bill 961 writes that a variety of changes will be directly introduced into California vehicles, including  speed governors: a preventative device that disables a car’s ability to exceed a certain speed limit.

SB 961 will also require side underride guards on trucks, “to reduce the risk of cars and bikes being pulled underneath the truck during a crash,” said Wiener.

These changes are in place to handle vehicle fatalities in the U.S. and in California, where there has been a rise in reckless driving since the pandemic, Sen. Wiener’s office notes.

According to the Senator’s office, the chances of a fatality increases with speeding. In a Traffic Safety Report from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), “1/3rd of all traffic fatalities in the state between 2017 and 2021 were speeding-related.

The National Association of City  Transportation Officials (NACTO) notes ‘a person hit by a car traveling at 35 miles per hour is five times more likely to die than a person hit by a car traveling at 20 miles per hour.’”

“The alarming surge in road deaths is unbearable and demands an urgent response,” said Senator Wiener, adding, “There is no reason for anyone to be going over 100 miles per hour on a public road, yet in 2020, California Highway Patrol issued over 3,000 tickets for just that offense. Preventing reckless speeding is a commonsense approach to prevent these utterly needless and heartbreaking crashes.”

The lawmaker’s office said that “speed governors will be required in all vehicles sold in the EU beginning July of this year. The devices must warn drivers when they have surpassed the legal speed limit of a specific roadway through alarms or accelerator resistance.”

Senate Bill 960 would require Caltrans to “make physical improvements like new crosswalks and curb extensions on state-owned surface streets to better accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, the disability community, and transit users.”

According to Senator Wiener, SB 960 is “a transit priority policy with performance targets to improve transit travel time reliability, speeds, reduced transit and rider delay, and improved accessibility at stops, stations, and boarding facilities,” designed to improve overall safety for commuters.

Robin Pam, an organizer with KidSafe SF, a movement that advocates for safer streets and vibrant public areas in the San Francisco Area, said, “This legislation is an important step toward making our streets–and cities–safer for everyone by preventing vehicles from speeding dangerously on our city streets and redesigning our roads for safety. We applaud Senator Wiener’s leadership at the state level to make our streets safe enough for kids.”

About The Author

Olivia Biliunas is a fourth year student at UC Davis pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and a minor in Professional Writing. With a passion for the field of law she hopes to one day find herself making an impact on other people's lives as a lawyer. In her spare time she loves to go skiing and wakesurfing.

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1 Comment

  1. Walter Shwe

    I am 100% behind the Speeding and Fatality Emergency Reduction on California Streets (SAFER California Streets) Package. It will increase safety and significantly reduce the incidents of excessive speeding and wreckless driving in California. There is no legitimate need to drive over 100 MPH on our state’s roads. Being poor should not entitle you to escape scott free from paying large fines for going over 100 MPH. 

    Trucks should already be required to have side underride guards. That bill provision is a no brainer.

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