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State considers charging certain drivers a fee to avoid car-related deaths: 'We're addressing this from a data-based perspective'

"It just makes sense to tie funding to that."

"It just makes sense to tie funding to that."

Photo Credit: iStock

Colorado's state legislation has proposed a new bill that could transform cyclist and pedestrian safety in the state.

According to StreetsBlogUSA, the Centennial State is considering enacting a "vulnerable road user protection fee" that would make owners of trucks, SUVs, and larger passenger cars pay an additional fee for cyclist and pedestrian infrastructure. These particular types of vehicles have been singled out due to research showing that larger vehicles are more likely to kill cyclists and pedestrians.

If approved and signed into law, the bill could raise as much as $20 million per year to help fund projects that would slow cars down and improve conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.

"We're addressing this from a data-based perspective," said state Senator Lisa Cutter, the lead sponsor of the bill. "Data shows us that higher vehicle weights directly correlate with vulnerable road user deaths. It just makes sense to tie funding to that. It's not about disincentivizing the purchase of this vehicles; it's about recognizing that these are the cars that are disproportionately involved in these fatalities."

The bill would only impact the 12 most populous counties in the state, as pedestrian and cyclist deaths most commonly occur in these more populated areas.

Since passenger cars produce around 3.3 billion tons of carbon pollution per year, according to Statista, it's vital that communities adopt practices that get cars off the road and encourage people to walk and cycle to reduce pollution. Fewer cars on the road also means fewer car-related fatalities.

Cutter also noted that although she supports electric vehicles, the bill cannot ignore the fact that EVs are heavier than gasoline-powered alternatives, which means they can be more fatal in accidents.

"I actually felt really strongly that I didn't want to be inconsistent in how we apply [this law]," she said. "[These fees] are not punitive towards people who buy EVs. I mean, 90 percent of the work I do is tied to environmental issues; of course I want people to buy EVs. But it's also absolutely true that the weight of EVs fits into the equation in terms of vulnerable road user deaths. We didn't want to say, 'Well, we like EVs better, so we're carving them out."

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