A Prius driver’s argument for the per-mile fee: Roadshow

Q:  I was one of 5,000 volunteers in a 2018 six-month study called “The California Road Charge Program,” where drivers paid a fee based on the miles they drove instead of a gas tax. It was outstanding. It covered different options to register your mileage and had different options to pay. What happened to the final report to the Legislature? It was great.

Jim Spinello, Alamo

Like Mr. Roadshow’s Facebook page for more questions and answers about Bay Area roads, freeways and commuting.

A: It’s not done yet, but tell us more.

Q: I registered my vehicles and picked a method most convenient for reporting the mileage. I picked recording it monthly by taking a picture of my odometer readings and texting directly to them. I then picked one of many payment options and chose to pay by credit card monthly. They sent me a monthly bill and a credit card to pay it with.

What you paid to the highway department was based on how much gas you used, simple. But today, with the many hybrids and electric vehicles on the road that are good for the environment, the old user fee structure does not work anymore. I have a hybrid Toyota Prius, and I truly feel that I am not paying my fair share for using the California highway system that I am very proud of.

Jim Spinello

A: Another pilot project is underway. The previous one found that, on average, drivers paid 3 cents per mile in the usage fee, which is close to the average amount per mile that drivers pay in gas taxes each year — a total of $280 on average. Previous studies have shown that most households – including urban/rural and low-/high-income households – would not see a significant change in how much they pay now if California were to shift from a gas tax to a road usage fee system.

Q: Asking for a friend: If a person got a traffic violation in Italy and it went unpaid, could that person travel to France without a problem? Do European countries cooperate with each other and have access to each other’s unpaid traffic violations?

Dave Johnston, San Jose

A: Yes, they do. Many motorists think they’re immune from being fined or prosecuted if caught breaking laws in other European countries. They are not.

Since May 2017, enforcement authorities have been able to pursue and fine drivers of vehicles registered in other EU countries. This means that whether you’re caught driving without a seatbelt in Spain or speeding in Belgium, you can still be fined and prosecuted when you visit other EU countries.

Join Gary Richards for an hourlong chat noon Wednesday at www.mercurynews.com/live-chats. Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at [email protected] or 408-920-5335.


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