A bill has been filed in the Texas House of Representatives to ban remote kill switches from being installed in vehicles.
The bill was authored by Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City) and filed on December 19. It is backed by Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) and Texans for Toll-free Highways (TTH).
A “kill switch” is a device installed inside a vehicle that prevents it from starting. The press release claims a kill switch can be activated by anyone who gains control of it, including the government.
“After the COVID lockdowns, there can be no question about how far the government will go to exercise power over the citizens’ freedom of movement,” argued Terri Hall, founder of both TURF and TTH.
Hall continued, “With the push to end fossil fuels and mandate electric vehicles, the rise of government tracking of carbon emissions under the Biden administration … and the pilot federal mileage tax, the government is closing in on forms of a social scoring system that can be weaponized against drivers anytime the government determines you’re using too much carbon or otherwise deemed uncooperative with its edicts.”
“Texas has to stand its ground and say ‘No’ to such surveillance state tactics,” Hall concluded. “We intend to keep the Lone Star State free of such overreach.”
Levi Russell, professor of applied economics at the University of Kansas’ Brandmeyer Center, wrote in May on the potentially far-reaching implications of this technology.
“These corporations can sell you a product for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars then prevent you from using them,” Russell suggested. “Worse yet, if the law is not challenged or repealed, these kill switches will have a ‘back door’ that allows government agencies to shut your vehicle off remotely as well.”
While TURF and TTH allege the recent legislation mandates “kill switches” be installed, AP News reports that the provision in question is aimed towards preventing drunk driving deaths.
The provision requires all new vehicles to include “advanced drunk driving and impaired driving prevention technology” as “standard equipment.”
For his part, Jeffrey Michael, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Injury Research and Policy, asserted that this technology does not give government agencies control over vehicles.
“I’ve been associated with this technology since the beginning of its development and it has always been viewed as a prevention device rather than an enforcement device,” he said, adding that he believes the new law has “nothing to do with giving law enforcement access to a kill switch.”
Many vehicles in the United States already operate with kill switches — most of which are installed to prevent thieves from being able to start the vehicle.