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Yes, it is so terrible. Next question

June 01, 2011

Professor Maule asks, I answer:

Is the Mileage-Based Road Fee So Terrible?

Yes it is. It is creepy, and it sends us down a slippery slope to where government enforces every traffic rule, from complete stops at stop signs to highway speeding, based on GPS locator information. It also undermines any attempts to use carbon taxes or gas taxes to restrict fuel use.

Related: Paying at the Pump: Gasoline Taxes in America, by the Tax Foundation.

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Actually, Joe, the mileage-based road fee can be computed using odometer readings. Those are already submitted to the government in two ways. One, the annual vehicle registration form. Two, the annual (or more frequent) vehicle inspection report filed by the inspection station. Vehicles already contain "black boxes" that record speed, braking, etc. As for restricting carbon use, the reason a shift away from fuel taxes is necessary is that increasing numbers of motorists are shifting (sorry) to electric and other alternative vehicles. Combined with better MPG ratings, this is causing a drop in highway maintenance revenues at a time when America's highway infrastructure is crumbling (Penna alone has 8,000 structurally deficient bridges). The irony is that the mileage-based road fee does NOT permit enforcement of every traffic rule, and that is scary, considering that it does not prevent, nor permit enforcement of rules against, texting while driving. What's wrong with catching a stop-sign-runner before he or she slams into one of our children?

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