Mileage tax gets a Triangle test drive

Mileage tax gets a Triangle test drive

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200 drivers will get mocked-up bills

Two hundred Triangle drivers will be recruited this fall to road-test a satellite-technology system that might be used one day to collect highway taxes on every mile we drive — replacing the gas tax on every gallon we buy.

Computers mounted in volunteers' cars will use global positioning system tracking to count the miles — even across state lines.

Participants will receive make-believe state and federal tax bills for their miles. For their time and their opinions, they'll be paid $895 in real money.

The $16.5 million Road User Charge Study will enlist drivers in six states to determine whether the technology works, and whether Americans would accept a new mileage tax. Volunteers will be asked how they feel about technology that collects information about their driving.

The federal government and 15 states, including North Carolina, are paying for the study to find a fair, reliable revenue source that can keep pace with growing transportation needs.

"The gas tax is not going to be a viable way of funding our highways in the future," Jon Kuhl, a University of Iowa professor who is directing the study, said in an interview. "The national Highway Trust Fund is already going broke, and the situation is going to get worse." (more…)