Obama’s Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood came out in favor tracking and taxing drivers on the miles they drive instead of the amount of gas they consume.
The Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) is studying ways to replace the fuel tax with a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) program. Currently, Nevada drivers are taxed 54 cents in fuel taxes per gallon at the pump.
The Nevada Highway Users Coalition has announced its support for a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT).
The first phase of the VMT study is being funded by the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) and Regional Transportation Commissions in both Southern Nevada and Washoe County. NDOT and Washoe contributed $100,000 each. The Southern Nevada agency contributed $60,000 for a total of $260,000.
The ACLU of Nevada opposes any information collecting method that would threaten individual privacy rights, particularly if it allows the government to create an infrastructure for routine surveillance.
Location-sensing is what GPS does. GPS sensors must know where you are in order to measure how far you’re moving. It would be fairly simple to turn these devices into full-fledged tracking devices. This amounts to a perfect infrastructure for tracking citizens everywhere they go in their vehicles.
According to the Heritage Foundation, a VMT would be expensive to implement because every car would need to be fitted with a device that both records miles driven and transmits the information to a government database.
“This complicated system would cost millions and raise concerns of Big Brother watching our every movement,” the Heritage Foundation said in February 2009. “Americans don’t like paying the gas tax, but they are sure to be even more unhappy having to deal with the administrative nightmare the VMT promises.”
Paul Enos, chief executive officer of the Nevada Motor Transport Association, said there is no need to switch from the current gas tax just to try to capture revenue from hybrid and electric cars.
Those pushing the VMT don’t talk about it much, but it would allow drivers to be taxed at higher rates for using freeways during congested drive times, Enos said.
“It is social engineering at its best; or worst,” he said. “They are trying to change public behavior.”