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Assemblyman Chris Ward (Photo: lgbtqcaucus.legislature.ca)

California Drivers Could be Charged Higher Registration Fees for Heavier Autos

AB 251 focused on studying the relationship between vehicle weight and injuries to pedestrians and cyclists

By Evan Symon, February 10, 2023 5:51 pm

California is considering charging higher truck and SUV auto registration fees for heavier cars under a new bill in the state Legislature.

The automotive industry is growing apprehensive about what it could possibly mean for them.

Assembly Bill 251, authored by Assemblyman Chris Ward (D-San Diego), would require the California Transportation Commission (CTC) to convene a task force to study the relationship between vehicle weight and injuries to vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, and to study the costs and benefits of imposing a passenger vehicle weight fee that would go towards street safety and improvement projects. The study would also look into how much revenue such a new weight fee could bring in as well as what weight limits could potentially be used as a cutoff.

The bill would require the CTC to submit a report to the legislature by the end of 2025. AB 251 would not enact a weight fee following submittal of the report, but could influence the DMV or other state officials to impose it later in the decade.

Assemblyman Ward wrote the bill due to studies showing that heavier SUVs and trucks have been causing more fatalities than standard weight vehicles and the possibility that a higher fee could help reduce the number of fatal or crippling accidents with fewer SUVS and trucks on the road.

“We know there are studies suggesting fatality rates can be higher for crashes involving heavier vehicles –– especially models weighing several thousand pounds,” said Ward in a statement on Thursday. “AB 251 will look further into the relationship between vehicle weight and injuries to help inform policy in the future.”

AB 251 gained the support of car accident victim organizations and networks since being introduced last month, with many noting  that the bill has the potential to save lives.

“Drivers in these big cars cannot easily see what’s in front of them, especially when making turns,” explained Margaret O’Connell, a Pasadena resident who lost a close loved one in an accident involving an SUV ten years ago who now runs a victim recovery organization, to the Globe on Friday. “Drivers keep saying that the bigger size is for safety or to carry more people or to haul large loads. But it only benefits them , and puts everyone else at greater risk as a result. There needs to be some sort of equilibrium, that they need to pay more of a fair share outside of higher insurance premiums. A higher registration fee is a good place to start.”

However, those opposing the bill, which includes some automotive groups, said that AB 251 could financially harm many Californians as a result.

“A lot of these so called larger vehicles already pay a higher price through gas, through higher insurance, and through more garage visits for wear and tear,” countered Randy Hanks, an online car and truck consultant, to the Globe. “Adding a higher registration would only further the financial burden for a lot of people. A lot of agricultural and construction workers need larger vehicles for their jobs, and many are barely getting by right now. They’re affected. The landscaper trying to make it by in LA is affected too. Large families, again, many of whom are tight on money due to their sheer size, will also see more money out of their pocket. These people need larger vehicles, not simply want them. And we’d be unduly punishing them more for it.”

AB 251 is expected to be heard in the Assembly Transportation Committee later this month. Should it pass and later influence a new weight fee  for car registrations, California would join 14 other states and the District Columbia in adding new weight fees. Fees in these states currently range from only $25 a year to $500 a year.

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17 thoughts on “California Drivers Could be Charged Higher Registration Fees for Heavier Autos

  1. This article is misleading, a reader would assume that California doesnt currently charge weight fees for heavier vehicles. It does, as a truck owner I pay a weight fee every year, for my 6400lb truck I pay 180.00 in weight fees ontop of all the other registrations fees we all pay. In fact, any pick up truck in California is considered a commercial vehicle and is subject to weight fees now. This is a thinly veiled attempt to increase and/or expand the weight fees that are currently charged in California along with the additional TIF fee that everyone pays now for road improvement.

  2. So are ya telling me bigger is not better?
    Screw that! Just another way to screw over the family unit and blue collar worker!
    I have to say this and I have no ill will or want to see higher registration fees on Tesla cars but they seem to be the new a**hole on the road! I see more wrecks with hondas, all sorts of cars etc….
    This is just pure liberal b.s.

  3. Why didn’t you mention that weight fees have existed for pickup trucks in California for decades? Did you even bother to check? Sloppy.

  4. Lemme guess, no one in Mr. Wards world drives a pickup for work, or any reason, and has contempt for anyone who does. Everyone he knows works from home, rides a bicycle, or drives a Prius

  5. I think that all they do all day long is to try to find more ways the suck another dime from the the pocket of those that work (or retired) while providing more free crap to anyone they can attract to the state, we are taxed to death now, bond issues are passed with no action and the state is circling the drain, ( twice the tax per capita and the crap is accelerating) Will the voters in this state ever figure it out!

  6. It’s crazy how we already have some the highest registration fees in the country AND at the same time some of the worst roads! Unfortunately the urban dwellers outnumber every other area of California and they will get this passed! Isn’t this some Minority Report scam? Don’t judge a driver by his record but by his vehicle!

  7. Not surprised that a Democrat like Assemblyman Chris Ward would try to raise the already sky high registration even higher? There should be an investigation of where all the current registration fees are actually going when California has some of the worse roads in the U.S.? However, don’t count on Democrat Gov. Newsom or Democrat Attorney General Bonta to ever call for that investigation?

  8. If a pedestrian is hit at 30 mph by a Prius weighing 3,000 pounds the injuries are significantly less than if they were hit by a Tesla weighing over 5,000 pounds? Somehow I doubt it.

  9. ca. has a 25 billion deficit. Politicians need more money to make up for that. EV weigh more than gas powered vehicles. Charge more for Their registration. Ca. and Gov. Nuisance are nothing but giant mosquitoes sucking the life blood out of Californians. Thats why I left the state I was born in 65 years ago.

  10. Who ends up paying for these costs?
    the middle class and poor through higher prices

    democrats just don’t care about these classes they only pretend to get the votes and shaft them with acts like this

  11. When will EVs start paying their ‘fair share’ for roads.
    A Tesla Model S weight 2,000 pounds more than my ICE car and causes more wear on the roads but they pay zero in fuel taxes which are supposed to go to the roads.

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