Skip to main content

Have you ever heard about history repeating itself? Well, this time, federal regulators are trying to limit speeds in cars again. It isn’t the first time this has happened, and it certainly won’t be the last. Dead pedals, speed limiters, whatever they’d like to call it, federal regulators want automakers to stop allowing drivers to exceed speed limits. Although an agency encourages automakers to do so, there’s almost no chance the manufacturers will actually do it. Speeding is something most drivers do every single day.

Why do federal regulators want to limit your car’s speed again?

A 25 mph speed limit sign on the side of a road. Federal regulators want to limit your car's speed.
A 25 mph speed limit sign photographed at 19th St. in Golden, Colorado on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. | Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

According to Kelley Blue Book, CNN aired a report this week suggesting that federal regulators want to encourage automakers to build speed limiters into all new cars. Take note that it says encourage, not mandate. Recently, the city of New York purchased 50 new vehicles equipped with intelligent speed assistance technology.

In short, it’s a system that uses GPS technology to track where cars are, and it can limit acceleration to keep it under a speed limit. There’s a button on the dashboard allowing the city workers to override the function if they need to speed up to merge.

CNN says the National Transportation Safety Board is recommending all cars adopt similar technology.

Don’t expect automakers to listen

A green Porsche 718 Boxster GTS performance coupe sports car model driving around a twisting country highway
Porsche 718 Boxster GTS | VW Group Media

If this sounds a little crazy and controlling, it’s because it is. But fear not; there is very little chance the automakers actually listen to the recommendation. Luckily, it’s just that, a recommendation. We wouldn’t expect automakers to limit speeds in cars unless the government officially mandates it, which isn’t likely to happen.

As KBB said, “NTSB doesn’t make the rules. It’s a federal agency charged with investigating transportation accidents — everything from plane crashes to ship sinking to car crashes — and advising the Department of Transportation on what could have stopped them.”

As a result, the NTSB has concerns about the spike in traffic deaths since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic a few years ago. The agency releases a “Most Wanted” list annually, listing its wishes for policy changes to make American roads safer. Plans to reduce speeding, which includes speed limiters in vehicles, have been on the list every year since 2019.

The NTSB can’t make laws or regulations

Fastest trucks: 2022 GMC Hummer EV
2022 GMC Hummer EV | General Motors

For any of the NTSB recommendations to go into effect, other agencies or Congress would have to implement them. Nothing the agency thinks is a good idea can happen without help from those in power. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like any of those people take what they say too seriously. KBB noted that in 2017, the NTSB recommended federal regulators “incentivize passenger vehicle manufacturers and consumers to adopt intelligent speed adaptation systems.” They still haven’t done anything about this recommendation as of 2022.

How do speed limiters work?

Speed limiters or “dead pedals” are nothing new. They’ve been used in commercial fleet vehicles for decades. However, New York City‘s way of doing things is a bit more advanced. It uses GPS to monitor the city limits, check the speed limit, and cap the speed accordingly. KBB says “designers can limit a car’s speed with physical blocks on the throttle body or with software.”

In conclusion, it is possible to limit the speed of your car to always keep it below the speed limit. Some federal regulators believe the roads would be much safer if automakers implemented dead pedals into every new vehicle. However, they’ve been suggesting it for years, the government clearly does not seem to pay it much mind. We can’t imagine any lawmakers would see reelection if they stopped someone from speeding down the highway permanently.


Joe Biden Executive Order: U.S. Government Will Use Full Zero Emissions Vehicle Fleet by 2035