This weekend, Parisians will participate in a referendum on SUVs. The sales of the big vehicles are exploding in Europe, and old-world cities with narrow streets and limited parking are struggling to cope with the demands of tall, long and heavy vehicles.
If Parisians vote “Oui” to the measures, parking prices for SUVs would be triple what they would be for passenger cars.
Paris isn’t alone. Jurisdictions around the world are considering sin taxes for drivers. Just as governments tax people for smoking and drinking, should drivers of larger, heavier vehicles pay more, too? Depending on which reports you read, SUVs and pickups either do massive damage to roads, or do little or no damage at all. But, we do know this: They take up more space when parked against the curb. They have more blind spots than passenger cars do. And, because they are heavier, pedestrians have less of a chance of surviving being hit by a large SUV or pickup truck than they would a car.
California has commissioned a study into how the weights of vehicles impact the “degradation” of roads and the severity of accidents. Maybe this will be the study that will stop the online debates on whether or not SUVs and heavy pickups add to the costs of road maintenance and repair. By 2026, the legislature of America’s most populous state will decide if it will impose a “passenger vehicle weight fee.”
There are parts of Montreal that already have graduated parking fees based on the weights of vehicles. Washington, D.C. has approved a vehicle registration system based on weight. If your vehicle weighs more than 6,000 pounds, you’ll pay triple the registration fees than someone driving a passenger sedan. (A Jeep Cherokee weighs 6,500 pounds, for reference’s sake; don’t even get me started on the weight of an Escalade.)