New York City Bill Would Mandate Active Speed Limiters by 2024

The proposed legislation would also establish blind spot standards for SUVs to improve direct visibility of pedestrians.

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New York City is in the midst of a pilot program where 50 vehicles in its municipal fleet operate with Intelligent Speed Assistance systems installed. The ultimate goal of the pilot is to determine if it is feasible to install the electronic safety systems in the city’s entire 30,000-vehicle fleet. Though, a bill presented in the New York State Senate could require all new vehicles registered in the state to have similar systems in the near future.

Senate Bill S9528 was introduced by Manhattan State Senator Brad Hoylman two weeks ago. The proposed legislation would require that any passenger vehicle manufactured on or after January 1st, 2024, and registered in the state to be equipped with “advanced safety technology.”

The bill defines “advanced safety technology” as “Active Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA), Advanced Emergency Braking (AEB), Emergency Lane Keeping Systems (ELKS), Blind Spot Information Systems (BSIS), Drowsiness and Distraction Recognition Technology, Rear-View Camera Sensor Systems, and Event Data Recorders (EDR).” The text adds that BSIS should include cyclist and pedestrian detection technology.

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The mandate requiring Intelligent Speed Assistance would mirror a similar requirement in the European Union slated to come into force in July 2024. Unlike the passive systems that will be required in the EU, the bill dictates active ISA systems will be required in New York. These systems will actively prevent drivers from speeding using GPS and visual data to detect the posted speed limit. However, questions surround if New York State has the jurisdiction to impose vehicle safety standards. Unlike vehicle emissions, safety standards are the exclusive responsibility of the U.S. federal government and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Senate Bill also includes a subdivision “requiring the commissioner [of motor vehicles] to issue regulations for vehicles over 3,000 pounds to limit blind spots and establish standards regarding direct visibility of pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users from the driver’s position, by reducing to the greatest possible extent the blind spots in front and to the side of the driver.” This section of the measure is clearly aimed at SUVs and attempted to eliminate the risks they pose to pedestrians in New York City. SUVs are consistently involved in scores of fatal pedestrian collisions every year.

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State Senator Hoylman told Streetsblog, “The impetus of the bill is the failure of the promise of Vision Zero.” In the bill’s stated justification, Hoylman cities the startling rise in traffic-related deaths in New York City: 243 deaths in 2020 and over 270 deaths in 2021, the deadliest year in the city since its implementation of Vision Zero. While mandating active ISA might seem radical, the other mandated driver assists are already standard on new premium cars.