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North Las Vegas crash sparks new dialogue about speed limiters in cars

Posted at 6:34 PM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 23:20:01-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Stopping speeders on the road could result in changes for all of us.

The National Transportation Safety Board would like to see every vehicle have advanced speed limiting devices that change your speeds on the fly.

This comes partly in response to a traffic collision that killed nine people in North Las Vegas over the weekend.

And chances are if you got a vehicle in the past 25 years, you already have one in your car. Sometimes, it’s right out in the open under the hood, and these control your emissions, RPMs, and overall speed.

“Most of the cars that have the limit, you just don’t drive that kind of mileage — that kind of speed — to be able to say, ‘OK, it doesn’t go more than that,’” said Victor Botnari, owner of Universal Motorcars.

So, it does not matter if the speedometer says 160. Your vehicle will top out long before then.

“I do have a lot of people come in asking if we can remove the limit,” he said. “No, we cannot remove the limit. To remove the limit, you have to reprogram the computer for the vehicle, and only the manufacturer is allowed to do that.”

Speed limiters, also called engine control units or governors, are a safety measure that has been standard in all vehicles since the late '90s. And modern technology is taking it a bit further.

“Some of the cars like Ford have the 'My Key,' and the key is programmed to a specific speed limit,” Botnari said.

These can only be altered by the manufacturer. But the NTSB, in an effort to reduce speeding-related crashes like the one in North Las Vegas, wants modernized limiters in cars that can be easily altered in order to save lives.

MORE: NTSB will study North Las Vegas crash in efforts to reduce speeding fatalities nationwide

“Let’s say the speed limit is 70,” said Patrick Casale, the owner of Multicare Group Insurance. “Go 70 miles per hour and, if you could get a dollar for every car that passes you, that should tell you exactly what’s going on.”

He says people have a natural tendency to want to win.

“Even though they’re not in a race, they want to pass somebody,” said Casale. “Well, if you sit on a highway — whether it’s the 215 or the 95 or the 15 — and it’s normal traffic, you’d be surprised how many cars blow by you.”

If this gets much farther than the idea stage, then these modern limiters are sure to have an uphill battle ahead of them.

“I do agree that there should be a limit,” said Botnari. “It’s not like, for example, the limit is 75 and the car should be limited to 75. No, it’s supposed to have some reserve, but it should be limited.”

Changes to speed limiters in cars are in the very early stages and would potentially take decades to implement.