Today’s Solutions: May 22, 2024

Large pickup trucks’ popularity keeps growing in the United States and not just for hauling. Bigger and bulkier trucks are often used as normal cars, even new heavy-duty models like the Ford F-250 which gets 15 miles per gallon and is almost two feet taller than an average sedan.

Not only do these large pickups emit more carbon dioxide and take up more space, but they also present a danger to pedestrians and cyclists in cramped cities. While there’s little that can be done to dissuade motorists from buying trucks like this, Washington DC is proposing an increase in vehicle registration fees to curb their use. 

Paying more for more truck 

The District of Columbia, which operates as a state while also functioning as a city, would require owners of trucks over 6,000 pounds to pay an annual $500 registration fee, in comparison with a modest sedan’s $72. 

“You can’t ban sales of these things,” says Mary Cheh, a D.C. councilmember who developed the new fee structure, “but you can make them pay their own way.”

The proposal comes out of consideration for increased emissions but also out of concern for the recently increased numbers of pedestrian fatalities. Bigger trucks mean a bigger chance of collisions, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration doesn’t take pedestrian crashworthiness into account in its crash test ratings program. If it did, bigger models like the F-250 would be penalized, like they are in most developed countries. 

DC has decided to regulate registration fees, which vary from state to state by car size, car age, and emissions. Some states even charge a simple flat rate. Councilmember Cheh believes tying registration fees to weight will influence big trucks’ presence in the streets. Under 3,500 pounds will stay at $72, between that and 5,000 will be $175, up to 6,000 will be $250, and over that would be $500. 

This will certainly seem unfair to truck enthusiasts, but Cheh asserts that the change is about “proportionality” and the danger big trucks pose. “The size and weight of these vehicles have become ginormous,” she said. “When cars and pedestrians or cyclists come into contact, we know that the heavier the car, the worse the accident will be.”

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