Oregon is using an experimental program to become the first state to tax drivers based on the miles they travel on state roads rather than the gas they purchase.
The voluntary program, called OReGo, is designed to capture taxes from hybrid and electric car drivers who have been able to skirt gas taxes.
Oregon’s Department of Transportation is hoping to get 5,000 people to volunteer to install a small device under their steering wheels that will track their mileage and charge drivers’ credit cards one and a half pennies for each mile driven, Fox News reported Friday.
Transportation officials say the growing numbers of electric and hybrid cars has left the gas tax flat and unable to fund road maintenance.
“We’re trying to make up for a growing deficit, really, because inflation’s eating away at our ability to buy asphalt and rebar and the things we need to maintain the roads,” Tom Fuller of the Oregon Department of Transportation told Fox News.
Oregon was the first state to impose a gas tax in 1919. That tax has now reached 30 cents per gallon.
Some Oregon drivers want the program to go national to make the tax more fair for all drivers.
“I’ve been free-loading on the highways for 20 years driving electric cars or hybrid cars, getting at least 40 miles to the gallon. So I haven’t been paying my fair share,” said Oregon resident David Hastings, Fox reported.
But others are raising questions about privacy. Two of the three OReGO systems track and store a car’s every move.
“To put a GPS monitor in everybody’s car, the government already knows too much about us as it is,” said Jeff Kruse, a Republican lawmaker, Fox reported.
There is also growing concern about the cost of the program. OReGO vendors will collects up to 40 cents of every dollar drivers are charged, and green car drivers could be in for some serious sticker shock every month.
“We need to be subsidizing and incentivizing electric cars and not putting more taxes or fees on them, not discouraging people from buying them in any way,” Jeff Allen, of “Drive Oregon” told Fox.