- Washington state plans to test a pay-per-mile simulation program as a means of testing more effective tax methods for road usage, American Shipper reported.
- The simulation is meant to address the growing number of electric or hybrid cars that, due to low gas consumption, don't fund their proportionate share of the much-needed gas tax to maintain roads. The ever widening gap between rising construction costs of roads and tax revenue is precipitating the program.
- The state of Oregon has roughly 1,000 volunteers already successfully utilizing a usage tax instead of the gas tax.
With electric and automated cars growing in number, the argument for a pay-per-mile tax basis makes sense in some regions.
In July, the House of Representatives passed the SELF DRIVE Act, accelerating the availability of self-driving cars, and determining a federal standard rather than maintaining the current patchwork of disparate laws governing their development and release in the market. Also in July, logistics company DHL partnered with Formula E , the class of auto racing that uses only fully electric-powered cars, for the heavily attended all electric car races in Brooklyn, New York. Now, in September, Tesla Motors has plans to test drive its autonomous and electric semi-trucks in both California and Nevada.
The likelihood of electric and autonomous vehicles ultimately dominating the market is high, although like most technology, initial adoption will be uneven. Therefore, Washington's plan to create an alternative option like pay-for-use is sound, as those who use electric technology already must contribute to the health of the road infrastructure. Although the ubiquitous gas tax was a formerly easy method of gaining revenue, other measures must now be implemented. Vehicle registration may serve to alert the state DMV of the need to differently tax, as may automatic notices of purchase sent to the Department of Taxation.