Owners of vehicles weighing more than three tons will have to pay a $500 tax.
Next time you're sitting at a traffic light, look around. There's a good chance that you're sharing the light with at least a couple of pickup trucks. Sales of full-size pickups had a big-time decline in the first quarter of this year, but automakers still sold hundreds of thousands of the things. Some cities are fed up with big, heavy vehicles like full-size trucks, and one is preparing to do something about it. Washington D.C. council members are working toward implementing a hefty registration fee for owners of heavy vehicles.
Since D.C. officials couldn't legally ban the vehicles, the next best solution was a fee. The registration charge for owners of vehicles that weigh more than 6,000 pounds may change to $500, which is several times more than the cost to register a sedan.
It's easy to surpass that number, especially with full-size trucks, as the base curb weights of most Ford F Series Super Duty trucks exceed the 6,000-pound mark, and the dual-rear-wheel F-450 climbs past 7,000 pounds. All of Chevy's HD trucks start at more than 6,000 pounds. The lightest model is the Silverado 2500 HD, which weighs 6,105 pounds.
Larger, heavier vehicles are more likely to seriously injure or kill pedestrians. Studies have shown that tall trucks and SUVs make it harder to see people and other obstacles in front of the vehicle. Consumer Reports looked at the front visibility of 15 new models and found that some pickups have a front blind spot 11 feet longer than many sedans and 7 feet longer than SUVs.
D.C. councilmember Mary Cheh told Bloomberg that "you can't ban sales of these things, but you can make them pay their own way." Electric vehicles are not immune, though Cheh has suggested a 1,000-pound weight credit to help ease the pain. That's good news for owners of vehicles like the GMC Hummer EV, which weighs more than 9,000 pounds.
Cheh's fee structure leaves the registration charges for cars under 3,500 pounds at $72 per year. Registration charges for vehicles weighing between 3,500 to 5,000 pounds will increase to $175, and the fee for vehicles between 5,000 and 6,000 pounds will increase to $250. The proposal does not leave an exception for people who require a large vehicle for work.
There are legitimate reasons to tax hulking vehicles that go beyond safety. Washington D.C. is one of the most congested cities in the United States, with commuters losing an average of 124 hours per year to traffic. Large vehicles take up more space on the road, but they can also make it more difficult for other cars to navigate around them. They also consume more fuel and emit more pollutants in the process.
European cities have been much more aggressive with fees and controls on the types of vehicles that can enter certain areas. French drivers pay an extra €10 for each kilogram (2.2 pounds) over 1,800 kilos for non-electric cars. Though it's not directly related to weight, other cities have banned or limited cars with internal combustion engines, diesel trucks, and commercial vehicles from entering dense areas.