Road-Use System to Get Test in Maryland
Baltimore Sun (10/20/08) Dresser, Michael
A federally-funded study being conducted in six states will test a system that could supplant the federal gasoline tax with road-use fees. During the study, a global satellite positioning system will track how many miles motorists drive in eight months, and will also note whether the state, federal, or local government pays for the roads they take. The study will also observe how participants react to the idea. Critics of the gas tax claim it will continue to decrease as a revenue source for road improvement as technology enhances mileage. Those who back the road-use fee maintain that it would distribute funds more accurately than the gas tax. Under a system where fees are based on road usage, users would get a bill every month showing how many miles they drove, in addition to when and where. Jon Kuhl, principal investigator with the Iowa Public Policy Center, says that exact locations to which the automobile has traveled will not be included in the data that the system gathers.
So, what happens when people fail to pay the bill? Jail time? Garnish wages? Tow away and impound their vehicles? Endless late fees pilled up?
Is the data regarding exact location of where each vehicle traveled stored or made otherwise available – and for whom, how? What safeguards do we citizens have to prevent and to punish abuses of our privacy? Violating our privacy should be a criminal offense and not just a civil matter.
Will public transit riders also be billed for their road usage each month?
What about federal, state, regional, and local governments?
What about non-profit organizations?
What about businesses?
Who gets a free ride – and who decides who will pay and who doesn’t?
Will private businesses be awarded contracts as toll collectors? How much profit will they be allowed to exort from the citizens?
What are YOUR thoughts?