March 5, 2021

‘Like hell I’m going to let California track my mileage’: Roadshow

Q: A tax paid on miles traveled that is then dedicated to road improvements sounds a lot more reasonable to me than another increase in gas taxes. … How about making those with electric cars pony up money for road work? … Like hell I’m going to let them track my mileage. … When will gas tax revenue disappear? Ha, that’s a funny one! They’ll tax rays of sunshine used years before anything like that would ever happen.

Anthony A., Steve Cassidy, Nancy Hayes and others

AT: Don’t be so sure. The state is now conducting its second test of charging drivers based on the number of miles one drives, perhaps up to two cents a mile, through this summer.

California is the second state to test mileage fees, joining Oregon, and there are plans to try this in nine other western states. The California Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) tax is also a possible way for the state to collect taxes at charging stations from motorists with electric vehicles.

In addition, California is laying the groundwork for charging for the road use of autonomous vehicles, self-driving cars packed with computers collecting a multitude of data, including the number of miles traveled. The VMT will test how a road charge could be collected on autonomous vehicles.

Q: I’m sure FasTrak and metering lights are hot topics, but enough. There are other equally important issues. I was nearly killed on Highway 17 in the rain, caused by someone’s bald tire. Why are there no vehicle inspections in California?

Robert Wahler, San Jose

AT: Your frightening experience points out a gap in inspection standards. Car inspections now occur before the owner registers a vehicle for the first time in California, but further inspection requirements focus almost exclusively on smog standards rather than mechanical safety.

Q: I was driving down Hacienda Avenue toward Winchester Boulevard, wasn’t paying attention to my speed, and was over the limit. A Los Gatos policeman pulled me over and issued a warning. Now, every time I am on that stretch of Hacienda, I envision the officer’s face, and I stay within the speed limit.

Bob Miller, Los Gatos

AT: A stern or polite warning, instead of a ticket, can also be effective in reducing speed.


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