An Iowa-based research center is looking for 450 Baltimore-area motorists willing to have their every driving move tracked by satellite to test a system that could theoretically replace the federal gasoline tax with road use fees.
The federally funded study will use a global positioning system satellite to track not only the mileage driven over eight months, but also whether each road traveled is funded by the state, federal or local governments.
Participants will receive a simulated bill each month for the road use fee owed to each level of government. Volunteers who take part in the study will get $895 for their services. It's all part of a $16.5 million study in six states to test the technology as well as motorists' reactions to the concept of road use tracking and fees - an idea that has received the outspoken support of U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters and other critics of the federal motor fuel tax.
Opponents of what is known as the gas tax say it's a dwindling source of revenue that is only crudely related to how much someone drives and where. Supporters of the road use fee argue that it would allocate money more precisely than the tax. But critics doubt that citizens would ever accept a system that gives the government specific information about their traveling habits.
They say now citizens won't stand for it. 50 years ago, they would have said the same about the Federal government telling us how much water we can flush. California will soon be telling people what temperature their thermostats can be.
The subjects will accept it. They are about to elect a Marxist.