Large trucks will cost you in the Columbia area

Large trucks will cost you in the Columbia area

Photo: NurPhoto - Getty Images

Photo: NurPhoto – Getty Images

  • Residents of DC who drive a vehicle weighing at least 000 6,000 will pay $ 500 a year to register it in Washington. Last year, the heaviest weight class started at 5,000 pounds and cost $ 155.

  • Any vehicle under 35 3,500 remains at $ 72, while anything between 00 3,500 and 99 4999 is now $ 175 per year (from $ 115) and 5000 5,000 to 99 5999 is $ 250 per year (up from $ 95).

  • “Heavier vehicles have heavier tolls on our roads,” explained Council member Mary Cheh.

Full-size trucks and SUVs have been the big thing for about a decade now, and despite the gas over $ 5, there seems to be little tendency to go back to mid-size sedans.

But even when a range of new all-electric trucks — from the Rivian R1T and Ford F-150 Lightning to the GMC Hummer, Chevrolet Silverado EV, and Tesla Cybertruck — fuel our nation’s love of oversized vehicles, they simply do not suit it in urban areas with congestion.

Washington, DC, has implemented new annual registration fees that are delimited, as before, by weight class, but are now designed to discourage residents from driving large trucks.

If you drive a vehicle that weighs at least 000 6,000, it will cost you $ 500 a year to register it with a license plate in Washington. Last year, the heaviest weight class started at 5,000 pounds and cost $ 155. Some Chevrolet Suburban and Cadillac Escalade models weigh over 6,000 pounds, along with some heavy-duty pickups. [The Chevy Suburban—pictured above—is a favorite of the US Secret Service for use by Congress members, though they are not registered as District of Columbia vehicles.]

The new charges will also affect owners of old Hummer-powered Hummers from the early ’00s, and mid-range pickups may also fall into this category.

Any vehicle under 35 3,500 remains at $ 72 and still bears the motto, “Taxation without representation”. Anything between 00 3500 and 99 4999 is now $ 175 per year (from $ 115) and 5000 5000 to 99 5999 is $ 250 per year ($ 95 increase).

Photo: GM

Photo: GM

“Heavier vehicles are burdening our roads,” said Council member Mary Cheh, who, as chair of the Washington, DC Council on Transport and Environment, included the new fee program in the District’s annual budget. The second reason, he said, “is the environmental impact.”

But the third reason is more important to her: “You are two to three times more likely to be killed as a pedestrian or cyclist” if hit by a vehicle weighing three tonnes or more, she says. Washington has seen a disproportionate increase in fatalities of pedestrians and cyclists in recent years.

The new higher charges will bring in “a couple of million dollars more” to the DC general fund from next year, and Cheh has allocated the extra funds “to go directly to road safety,” especially in school areas.

The new charging program recognizes that battery-powered electric vehicles weigh significantly more than combustion-powered vehicles. A 89 3589 Chevrolet Bolt and a 36 3681 Tesla Model 3 will fit in the $ 175 per year category, but these vehicles will only charge an annual registration fee of $ 72 because all EVs get 1000 1,000 for free. This λ 1,000 bonus will be appreciated by the owners of the F-150 Lightning EV, which weighs 00 6400-7000, according to Car and driver buyer guide. The driver also estimates that the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer 4×4 weighs about 6400 pounds and is not an EV.

DC residents who can afford a new or later model vehicle of a certain size and pay to refuel it will probably not be discouraged by the law from continuing to drive it. “I have no illusions that this increase in fees will get some people to get rid of a car,” Che said.

Photo: FCA US LLC

Photo: FCA US LLC

The bigger issue for Washington is more like a state enforcing strict gun laws that will not prevent gun owners from crossing the border with an AR-15: Large SUVs from the suburbs of Virginia and Maryland can still leave children at a private school in DC before being crammed into a parking garage on K Street and you will not face the same weight-based charges as the locals.

Prior to the pandemic, there was interest in major US cities adapting the type of congestion charges that London and Stockholm had been applying for years. For example, in April 2019, the state of New York passed a law that allows the pricing of congestion in Manhattan. But no such pricing has been implemented in New York.

Now the biggest issue is how to get people back to central areas, even when the coronavirus has made public transport unattractive to many commuters. Washington may look at congestion zones in the future, Cheh said, but for now attracting people back downtown to spend money on food and entertainment would be another sign that we are returning to a ‘normal’ before pandemic.

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