California Might Start Charging You for Driving a Heavy Vehicle

If passed, a new law would add registration fees for drivers of heavy cars and SUVs based on their vehicle’s weight.

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Image: Michael Macor (AP)

California is looking to further its push for more eco-friendly roads. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that lawmakers are considering a new mandate that would charge additional weight-based registration fees to drivers who own heavy cars, trucks, or SUVs.

Currently, California is only one of a few other states that charge registration fees based on the value of a vehicle rather than its weight; 14 other states charge owners vehicle registration fees based on weight. That could change if a new bill is passed.

Chris Ward, an assembly member from San Diego, has proposed AB251. Rather than jump right in and implement weight-based registration fees, the bill would have the California Transportation Commission study whether or not these new registration fees would work, along with the potential benefits that come with them, mainly money. The study would look at how much revenue the state could generate from these fees, which would then go to pay for street improvement projects across the state.


More importantly, the study would also look at the correlation between heavy vehicles and traffic fatalities, something that more and more are becoming aware of as more and more EVs appear on the country’s roads. In a statement to The Chronicle, Assemblyman Ward noted that state officials are aware of this. “We know there are studies suggesting fatality rates can be higher for crashes involving heavier vehicles — especially models weighing several thousand pounds,” he said in a statement.

If passed, millions of drivers would be affected. Data from the California Department of Motor Vehicles shows that of all the vehicles registered in the state, one in six vehicles would be subjected to weight-based registration fees.