Transportation: Charged For What You Use? - WSMV News 4

Transportation: Charged For What You Use?

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The state is predicting they will lose tens of millions of dollars over the next ten years with more and more smart cars on the road.  So they want to go where no state has gone before and charge you for how far you drive and how much your vehicle weighs.

"If you drive less you pay less.  If you drive more, you pay more," said the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Transportation, John Schroer about how transportation should be handled in the future.

"We're driving more miles, burning less gas," said Schroer.

While less gas is great for the environment, it's bad for the amount of money that trickles into TDOT's budget through the form of a gas tax.  And that's the money TDOT uses to build and maintain roads.

Each year, Tennessee earns more than $659 million from its state tax on fuel,  but with more and more fuel efficient cars on the road, that money isn't coming in as fast.

"All of a sudden, that certain amount of money you are paying for a gas tax goes away and now you've got a user fee, based upon number of miles you travel," said Schroer.

Just like with electricity, gas, sewer, and water, you pay for what you use.  That could soon be the case when it comes to driving.

Nicole Smith of Dickson said, "I think that's crazy. I drive a lot of miles."

With this idea, drivers would be charged based on how many miles you drive times the weight of your vehicle.  So the bigger the vehicle, the more you pay.

"The heavier the vehicle, the more wear and tear there is on the road," said Schroer.

And you will not be getting yet another bill in the mail for this.

"At some point in the future your car will be able to tell the gas pump how many miles you've driven since your last fill up, so you can be charged at that time," said Schroer.

Alan Rice doesn't like the idea of the government tracking his every move.  "It almost sounds like invasion of privacy," Rice said.

But don't worr, when you drive out of Tennessee, you won't be charged.

"So if you drive outside the state, you aren't being charged for mileage within your state. The technology is there to do that," said Schroer.

Right now this is only an idea that TDOT is exploring.  In fact the commissioner hasn't even talked to Governor Bill Haslam about it, but he hopes to toss the idea around to state legislators in the coming months. 

No other state has done this before, but the state of Oregon has launched some pilot tests to see how it could work.


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