Local News

Drivers Charged a Use Tax By the Mile?

Posted August 31, 2007

— People who make their own bio-diesel are now exempt from the state motor fuels tax.

Governor Easley signed the bill into law Friday. The move saves the home brewer of alternative fuel about $2,500. State law defines biodiesel as "any fuel or mixture of fuels made from agricultural products or animal fats.”

Taking it easy on alternative-fuel users is one more squeeze on road-building money, however. Gasoline revenues have declined as incentives increased and auto companies built more efficient cars.

Cars that get better gas mileage, such as hybrids and alternative-fuel vehicles, are a bigger percentage of the cars on the road. They're also contributing to less pain at the pump and easing environmental impact.

But, there’s a fork in the road. Increased fuel economy means that even though people are driving more miles, they are buying less gas.

“Gas tax revenues are going down. We need to find some way to make up for that to pay" for roads, said Joe Hummer with N.C. State University.

Hummer said he is a Triangle supporter of a nationwide study that should get under way in a few weeks. The Road User Charge Study will survey drivers in North Carolina and five other states. The idea is that instead of a gas tax, drivers would be charged a use tax by the mile.

Central to the concept would be global positioning satellite (GPS) units that would track where the vehicle was at what time of day. That data would be fed into a computer that would keep track and then ultimately send the owner of the vehicle a bill at the end of the month, according to Hummer.

Researchers say it's all about who puts the most wear and tear on the roads. A sliding scale would charge drivers a higher rate for driving at peak hours and more for driving on heavily traveled roads.

Because it's an urban highway, a trip down the Beltline would cost you a little more. If you take Interstate 40 to the beach, it would also bump up the tab.

Many drivers said they have concerns about paying by the mile.

“[That’s] invading on people's privacy. People shouldn't know where you're going, what you're doing,” said driver Kim Rose. “I don't want people to know where I'm going.”

The concept is a long shot, but researchers said they want to stop the trend of declining revenues and declining road conditions.

University of Iowa researchers are leading the study. They will be looking for about 450 Triangle area drivers to participate in the study as soon as legal issues are resolved.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Timbo Sep 2, 2007

    Joe is a socialist b*st*rd and needs to be fired.

  • CJjunkie Sep 2, 2007

    I gonna say just one thing. STOP rapeing me with all your taxes and fees. I would oppose any installation of any device that tracks where I drive my car. Let's see the state try to do this. The class action lawsuit that would follow would bankrupt the state. Let's stop paying taxes on every little thing and let's really take a good look at the FLAT TAX.

  • IfByWhiskey-a-go-go Sep 1, 2007

    It's NOT about the tax money. It's about being able to track your whereabouts. Not in the very near future, but it is coming.

  • scooperhsd Sep 1, 2007

    If they ever pass a billl like this, one easy solution - findout all the incumbents running for re-election, and vote against them.
    Heck that ought to be done anyway, at all levels of government !

  • validpoint Sep 1, 2007

    If this study finishes and the law passes, sounds like a lot of people will participate in civil disobedience or get more environmentally friendly by walking more. The unfortunate, but likely deliberate fact is that Easley's tax relief for home brewers of biodiesel only applies to very few people. You can do it at home, but it requires chemical know-how. If the article is wrong, and tax relief applies to anyone who uses biodiesel, then there is still not enough of it being used by the average consumer to make a difference in NC. So this mile tax will really make much more revenue than is lost by Easley's bill.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Sep 1, 2007

    Another way to squeeze more tax dollars from the taxpayers.

    What about those who have to travel for business?

    If Easley fully reimbursed the Highway Trust Fund for all of the money that he illegally moved from it, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

    Instead Easley used Highway Trust Fund money to fund his FAILED More at Four and other Socialist programs.

  • srjbdl Sep 1, 2007

    "Sorry, but that's a choice -- not a requirement. There's plenty of affordable housing in parts of Durham and Raleigh. Ditto Granville Co., northeast Wake County, Garner, Mebane..."

    I guess it depends on your definition of affordable. A person with an income at roughly $24,000 a year can afford a monthly payment/rent around $560 per month which is hard to find in any of the places you mention. Even singlewide trailers near Chapel Hill (where the job is) are more than that per month to rent.

    The only houses in that rangea I found near Chapel Hill was in Burlington - still a pretty good drive away.

    The only exception I'll give you is Durham - you couldn't pay me to live there.

  • Durham-Raleigh Sep 1, 2007

    "It seems to me that the lower income people will suffer the most as they have to live far away from their jobs in order to be able to afford housing."

    Sorry, but that's a choice -- not a requirement. There's plenty of affordable housing in parts of Durham and Raleigh. Ditto Granville Co., northeast Wake County, Garner, Mebane...

    What you're describing is a lifestyle choice, not a financial requirement. Sorry, no one forces you to live where you live.

  • oldlady Sep 1, 2007

    Holy catfish!! What a great idea for promoting Orwellian ideals!
    Just think - what a potential windfall for the marketing industry. Sure as the sun rises, God willing, there eventually would be an "accident" where information was compromised. Can't you invision the full color inserts with your bill? Coupons for this, that, whatever. Thrilling! I can't wait!?!!?
    Why not call our passed in the dark of night lottery 'Highways for Education'. We might be more willing to play.
    (from husband of oldlady)

  • wcnc Sep 1, 2007

    So, they want us to be more environmentally friendly and then tax us for being that!! As a protest, all those with hybrids, etc should pledge to buy SUV's if a law like this passes......CRAZINESS