September 27, 2021
America’s infrastructure is aging and crumbling at an alarming rate. Repairs and maintenance are funded by the Highway Trust Fund, which is funded by the gas tax. Unfortunately, with inflation and an increase in fuel-efficient and electric vehicles, the gas tax can no longer support the maintenance and repairs that our nation’s roads need. For this reason, state and even national officials are considering road usage charging as a source for road funding. This article will discuss road usage charging and how it would benefit our drivers and communities.
Road usage charging is known by many names including distance-based user fees, mileage tax, vehicle miles traveled tax, and mileage-based user fees. These names all describe the same concept: charging drivers for how many miles they drive instead of how much fuel they use. Oregon and Utah are the only states that have fully implemented road usage charging programs, but the following states are researching and testing their own programs:
If you visit any politician’s webpage on either side, their page on infrastructure will talk about the terrible state of disrepair of our roads, bridges, and highways. The current percentage of unsafe roads in our nation is 49%, and road conditions cause 22,000 traffic fatalities and 38% of injuries every year. Everyone’s goal is to make our roads safer. Implementing road usage charging will bring $340 million in funding to repair and maintain our roads.
Right now, fuel-efficient and electric vehicles are not paying their fair share for their usage of the roads. In fact, they pay little to nothing at all. Meanwhile, they still use the roads and inflict wear and tear on them. It is only fair that everyone who uses the roads should pay for their repair and maintenance. This is why road usage charging is a fair solution for everyone. It means that everyone is contributing based on the wear and tear they inflict on the road. Road usage charging is far more reasonable for all drivers.
Oregon’s road usage charging program costs 1.8 cents per mile, and Utah’s costs 1.5 cents per mile. The island of Kauai did a study based on these figures and found that the average driver pays $75 annually under the gas tax and would pay about $75 annually under road usage charging as well. There is simply more funding because more drivers will be paying into the system.
Oregon and Utah’s programs require very little supervision and administrative support. For example, Oregon’s program is monitored using Azuga Insight. This is an easy-to-install device that simply plugs into the OBD port. Once installed, it automatically tracks how many miles a driver travels. Then, the user sets up a digital wallet through an app on their phone, and money is automatically deducted based on how many miles they drive. It’s so easy to manage, and limits costs on the states implementing the system.
Azuga is at the forefront of the road usage charging initiative. We created Azuga Insight for Oregon’s program and will continue to support other states looking to implement road usage charging to improve their communities’ infrastructure. Find out more about Azuga’s work by following our blog!