SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Legislators fearing cars might become more fuel efficient, and their drivers pay less in gasoline taxes, are considering ways to tax motorists by the mile.
A notion out of Oregon is to equip cars with GPS systems that would keep track of a car's mileage, download it to gas station computers and add the per-mile tax to the fuel bill.
Rep. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said that as cars get better gas mileage, "the wear and tear on the highways doesn't reduce. So less gallons are being purchased and more miles are being driven."
Oregon Department of Transportation official James Whitty said a task force in his state came up with the concept of charging a vehicle mile traveled -- VMT -- fee of 1.22 cents per mile. The fee was calculated by dividing the state's 24 cent gas tax by the current passenger vehicle fleet average of 19.7 miles per gallon.
"Roads are indiscriminate on what type of fuel is being used," said Sen. Sheldon Killpack, R-Syracuse. "You have to have the infrastructure to accommodate the vehicle no matter what."
The Oregon task force decided on the GPS system to avoid problems with an odometer-based system, such as not being able to differentiate between miles traveled in the state or out of state, people objecting to paying a fee in one lump sum and people tampering with their odometer to avoid the tax.
"We have to get started now, or we're going to be in a real pickle down the road," Whitty said. "We're not saying this is the perfect plan, we just know we have a problem that's coming."
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)