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2019 Honda Insight, 2018 New York auto showStudy: Driving habits tied not to pump prices but to percentage change Logic suggests that the more gasoline costs, the less people will drive their vehicles. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy says that's true—but it's not as simple as the actual price paid at the pump. Tall order pickup truck: 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD...

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"April 11, 2018

Logic suggests that the more gasoline costs, the less people will drive their vehicles. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy says that's true—but it's not as simple as the actual price paid at the pump.

According to a study conducted by the federal agency, when gas prices spike, drivers do not dramatically reduce the amount they travel. The study indicates that drivers instead adjust the amount they drive based on the percentage of increase or decrease in the cost of fuel.

MORE: Trump administration could tax imported cars more than domestics

Other factors also factor into the number of miles driven, according to the report. While gas prices are top-of-mind because of how often they are put directly in front of drivers, factors such as demographics, economic growth, transportation mode shifts, driver licensing rates, vehicle population and infrastructure capacity also impact the overall amount that vehicles are driven.

All things considered, it makes more sense for drivers to drive as few miles as possible even when gas prices are low. More miles driven translates to more money spent on things such as oil changes, new tires, other maintenance and unexpected repairs and vehicle depreciation. The lower the miles driven, the more money can be saved on these costs.

The Federal Highway Administration encourages drivers to consider the amount that they drive even when gas prices are low. More driving can lead to other issues such as gridlock, increased pollution and infrastructure deterioration.

NPR reports that some transportation advocates are coming together to push for a change in the way that fuel taxes are charged so that infrastructure can be maintained more effectively.

Instead of gas taxes at the pump, some advocates believe that a tax based on miles driven makes more sense. This is because taxes at the pump are used in the maintenance of infrastructure.

When gas prices are low and drivers drive more, less taxes are collected and infrastructure maintenance suffers. Taxes collected per mile driven could ultimately help federal and state officials keep up with the cost of infrastructure repairs and construction better because the amount of upkeep required to infrastructure would be more balanced with the amount that roads, highways, bridges and other infrastructure are used."

Alright, so now someone gets the bright idea to want to tax the miles I drive instead of how much gas I buy. Anybody besides me see a problem with that?  What this article doesn't say is that gas taxes are a loosing proposition. With the growing number hybird cars on the road, better overall mileage, and electrification of cars and trucks, people are gradually buy less gasoline and (theoretically) replacing it with more demand for electricity (via the grid). Less gasoline purchased means less tax revenue collected and the electric cars get to use the same high system at virtually no cost. So this is a paradigm shift in tax generation and revenue to pay for the maintenance of the road / highway infrastructure.

What I struggle with is this - is this going to become like Obamacare and I have to report my annual mileage (on all my vehicles) on my Federal and/or State tax forms so I can be charged accordingly?

So bottom line (to me) is this article is boo hooing that tax revenue to support highway infrastructure is down and we need new sources of revenue to pay for our crumbing infrastructure. I think this is a terrible idea. States and the federal government have multiple opportunities to spend monies already collect on roads and infrastructure, but it is not a huge enough state or national priority to fix it.

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