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Fixing our Nation’s Roads

by Charlotte Freed | May 03, 2019

Truck driving through automated tollAll drivers, commercial or not, will agree that the nation’s infrastructure is sub-par. Highway repairs, improvements and maintenance are in high demand and, unless addressed, will continue to effect the trucking industry. That’s why politicians are ready to work across the aisle to make necessary changes to the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

While most feel infrastructure updates are needed, many are wondering where the nation will find the estimated $2 trillion needed to fix and maintain miles of highway. Infrastructure repairs and maintenance are currently funded through a fuel tax. Robert Poole, director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation, believes the fuel tax is outdated, especially with eco-friendly vehicles, strategies and policies on the rise. Poole notes that technology, like hydrogen-powered vehicles and platooning, will cause vehicles to use less fuel, decreasing the impact of the fuel tax each year.

Poole points to other inefficiencies with the fuel tax. A major flaw is that the fuel tax charges the same rate for any kind of use. For example, a truck will be taxed the same whether it is making a delivery on a country road or making a delivery to an urban distribution center. This is because vehicles pay an average price through fuel taxes, not per mile. 

To combat the shortcomings of the current tax, Poole’s latest research offered in The Case for Toll-Financed Interstate Replacement suggests tolling on interstates. This would require a change to a half-century old law that prohibits tolling on interstates. However, a major benefit to this change would be a statue that states taxes from highway tolls would only be able to be used for highway improvements. Suggested improvements include truck-only lanes and expanded service plazas. This would improve safety for both non-commercial and commercial drivers. 

The changes suggested in Poole’s research would be gradual. Whether they are widely accepted or not, updates to the nation’s roads are needed to help the trucking industry continue to move America forward.

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