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Author Topic: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.  (Read 12323 times)

cpzilliacus

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Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« on: July 20, 2016, 03:35:53 PM »

Washington Post op-ed: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.

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Many drivers gripe about the sorry condition of roads and bridges in the United States. They sometimes gripe even louder, knowing that they will likely have to dig into their pockets deeper to pay to fix them. But if they had to pick from several alternative ways to raise money for roads, a new study suggest drivers would prefer tolls instead of taxes.

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Thatís odd. Iíd take the fuels tax any day ó and especially instead of a new mileage tax.

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The study ó conducted by associate professor Denvil Duncan and others at Indiana Universityís School of Public and Environmental Affairs ó analyzed national data on driversí views of five possible revenue sources that could make up for declining fuel tax revenues. Thirty-four percent would go along with a greater reliance on tolls, while 29 percent would support raising fuel taxes, the researchers found. Twenty-one percent would support a new mileage fee, compared with 18 percent who would go for a higher retail tax. The least favored solution (13 percent) was raising income taxes.
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BrianP

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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2016, 05:06:30 PM »

Not that we have much choice.  The fuel tax isn't sustainable since we will be having more vehicles that don't use fuel on the roads.  Tolls are not scalable to cover all roads.  So what you are left with is some kind of tax.  A mileage tax is the fairest since unlike tolls it can cover the use of any road and is a measure of how much you use road infrastructure.  Other taxes are not specific to road infrastructure so they wouldn't be fair to people who don't drive. 
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vdeane

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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2016, 07:33:48 PM »

Electric vehicles can be taxed by charging for electricity at the supercharger stations and having a device in the car that meters in the tax from being plugged in and bills the owner.  I don't see hybrids sticking around once electric vehicles get as good as gas from a range/recharge time perspective.

A mileage tax would be tracking/paperwork nightmare and well as severely discourage driving, since it's very "in your face" to the motorist.  I would not want to have to guess how much I'll drive in a year, keep track of it, pay an upfront sum, have vignette stickers, etc.

While it's hard to cover everything with tolls, you can very easily cover the most expensive roads to maintain (interstates/freeways, bridges, and tunnels), and with AET, even surface streets are possible (the Move NY plan would place an E-ZPass gantry on every north-south road in Manhattan, for example).
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roadman

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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. That’s too bad.
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2016, 08:04:21 PM »

A mileage tax would be tracking/paperwork nightmare and well as severely discourage driving, since it's very "in your face" to the motorist.  I would not want to have to guess how much I'll drive in a year, keep track of it, pay an upfront sum, have vignette stickers, etc.
States that have safety and/or emission inspections already record your annual mileage as part of the inspection.  Wouldn't be that difficult to impose a Federal tax on that, to be distributed to the states similar to how the Federal gas tax is now.  For those states that don't have inspection programs, they could elect to either adopt such a program or lose a portion of their Federal funding.  Yes, this would be politically difficult, but not entirely impossible to sell.  Especially if you tie it into a reduction in the current gas tax.

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While it's hard to cover everything with tolls, you can very easily cover the most expensive roads to maintain (interstates/freeways, bridges, and tunnels), and with AET, even surface streets are possible (the Move NY plan would place an E-ZPass gantry on every north-south road in Manhattan, for example)

My comments above regarding implementing a mileage tax notwithstanding, and at the risk of sounding like I'm a Libertarian, I do believe that charging tolls is currently the most logical funding mechanism for Interstates, other major roads, bridges, and tunnels.  However, unless you have a location (like Manhattan) where there are a very limited number of ways to get into and out of the area, AET for surface streets will be largely unworkable from both an implementation and a political standpoint.  The other danger of tolling additional highways is that the revenue from those tolls will not be used for the most pressing needs in the larger highway system, but will be directly spent on the toll facility instead.

I suggest the following:  Toll the majority of the Interstate system, other freeways, and major bridges and tunnels.  The sole exceptions would be for locations where alternative facilities (and that includes transit and other non-highway modes) do not reasonably exist adjacent to the tolled facilities.  The secondary and local roads and streets would still be funded by gas, property, and excise taxes.  However, as funding for the big ticket items are no longer dependent upon those revenue sources, those taxes could (and should) actually be reduced.  I believe this plan will put funding sources for specific types of facilities more in line with the expenses to operate and maintain those facilities, and should avoid the need to eventually implement a mileage tax.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2016, 08:14:21 PM by roadman »
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cpzilliacus

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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2016, 09:00:00 PM »

Not that we have much choice.  The fuel tax isn't sustainable since we will be having more vehicles that don't use fuel on the roads.  Tolls are not scalable to cover all roads.  So what you are left with is some kind of tax.  A mileage tax is the fairest since unlike tolls it can cover the use of any road and is a measure of how much you use road infrastructure.  Other taxes are not specific to road infrastructure so they wouldn't be fair to people who don't drive.

Mileage based user fees have three (IMO) huge problems.

1. With the current state of technology, they are expensive to administer, potentially imposing the equivalent of a federal motor fuel tax increase of 8Ę to 10Ę per gallon - just to operate and administer the  system.

2. Securing such data could be a problem, and I am certain that hackers in Red China and Russia will have significant economic incentive to steal those data.

3. I have seen no way to prevent municipalities from imposing an extortionate per-mile fee (a high-tech version of a speed trap), especially on non-resident drivers.  I can think of several local governments in Maryland and  Virginia that would gladly try to impose a charge of $1, $5 or more per mile on non-resident vehicles.
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Duke87

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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2016, 09:52:31 PM »

It's not difficult to understand this preference. Tolls offer something none of the other four alternatives presented do: choice whether or not to pay them.

A fuel tax or a mileage tax cannot be avoided unless you do not own a car. A sales tax or income tax pretty much cannot be avoided, period. A toll can be avoided by choosing a shunpike route that is not tolled.

This is basically a manifestation of the classic syndrome of "I support more of X if someone else pays for it". I'm sure plenty of respondents who favor tolls do so under the assumption that they will not use the new toll road very often or at all. Or if they do, it will be a shiny new road and offer the perception of something gained, as opposed to having to pay more just to keep using all the same roads they are already using.
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kalvado

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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2016, 07:44:50 AM »

Electric vehicles can be taxed by charging for electricity at the supercharger stations and having a device in the car that meters in the tax from being plugged in and bills the owner.  I don't see hybrids sticking around once electric vehicles get as good as gas from a range/recharge time perspective.

A mileage tax would be tracking/paperwork nightmare and well as severely discourage driving, since it's very "in your face" to the motorist.  I would not want to have to guess how much I'll drive in a year, keep track of it, pay an upfront sum, have vignette stickers, etc.

While it's hard to cover everything with tolls, you can very easily cover the most expensive roads to maintain (interstates/freeways, bridges, and tunnels), and with AET, even surface streets are possible (the Move NY plan would place an E-ZPass gantry on every north-south road in Manhattan, for example).

I would say the glass half full..
If such taxation system for electric vehicles can be implemented, it wouldn't be too difficult to extend it to gas burners. I don't see such tax much more discouraging than gas expenses (and who thinks about gas consumption when heading to nearby grocery? Certainly not in the city).

Tolls may work if single nationwide transponder system is implemented (2016, right?)
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jeffandnicole

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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2016, 08:44:18 AM »

It's not difficult to understand this preference. Tolls offer something none of the other four alternatives presented do: choice whether or not to pay them.

A fuel tax or a mileage tax cannot be avoided unless you do not own a car. A sales tax or income tax pretty much cannot be avoided, period. A toll can be avoided by choosing a shunpike route that is not tolled.

This is basically a manifestation of the classic syndrome of "I support more of X if someone else pays for it". I'm sure plenty of respondents who favor tolls do so under the assumption that they will not use the new toll road very often or at all. Or if they do, it will be a shiny new road and offer the perception of something gained, as opposed to having to pay more just to keep using all the same roads they are already using.

Yep - they're probably thinking "I don't drive the toll roads anyway, or there's no toll roads in my state, so I won't have to pay for it".

They're missing the part where every road will become a toll road, including the municipal road they live on, and the county route they take to get to the convenience store.

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kalvado

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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2016, 08:59:31 AM »

It's not difficult to understand this preference. Tolls offer something none of the other four alternatives presented do: choice whether or not to pay them.

A fuel tax or a mileage tax cannot be avoided unless you do not own a car. A sales tax or income tax pretty much cannot be avoided, period. A toll can be avoided by choosing a shunpike route that is not tolled.

This is basically a manifestation of the classic syndrome of "I support more of X if someone else pays for it". I'm sure plenty of respondents who favor tolls do so under the assumption that they will not use the new toll road very often or at all. Or if they do, it will be a shiny new road and offer the perception of something gained, as opposed to having to pay more just to keep using all the same roads they are already using.

Yep - they're probably thinking "I don't drive the toll roads anyway, or there's no toll roads in my state, so I won't have to pay for it".

They're missing the part where every road will become a toll road, including the municipal road they live on, and the county route they take to get to the convenience store.

Not very feasible. More like backbones would be tolled - so one can still drive within city (at least smaller one) on gas tax. Fair or not, but this way local roads may be paid for by localities to some extent, and road warriors pay for the long haul infrastructure..
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SP Cook

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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2016, 09:46:16 AM »

Like much polling product out of academia, the poll presents skewed results.  As is often the case, it makes a presuposition and then presents a false dichotomy. 

The presuposition is actually two.  It presuposes that taxes need to be raised, and it presuposes that highway construction needs cost what it now does.

A better poll would start without any assumpitions. 

First you would ask about direct fuel taxes.

"Would you support spending 100% of fuel taxes on highways, or continue to use it to subdize transit?"

Then you would ask about other taxes.

"Which of the following government programs would you support eliminating in order to spend the money now spent on these for highways"  (Foreign aid, national defense, student loans, welfare, water projects, pretty much ask the pollee to priortize his or her opinion of what taxes should go for, assuming no new taxes.)

Then you would ask about costs.

"Would you support lowering the cost of highway constuction by 12.5% by repealing Davis-Bacon?"  "Would you support lowering the cost of highway constuction by 11% by elimination of certain aspects of EPA regulations?"

THEN, you would ask those who indicated a negative response to ALL of the above, if they would support X, Y or Z tax to fund highways.
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jeffandnicole

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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2016, 10:01:18 AM »

It's not difficult to understand this preference. Tolls offer something none of the other four alternatives presented do: choice whether or not to pay them.

A fuel tax or a mileage tax cannot be avoided unless you do not own a car. A sales tax or income tax pretty much cannot be avoided, period. A toll can be avoided by choosing a shunpike route that is not tolled.

This is basically a manifestation of the classic syndrome of "I support more of X if someone else pays for it". I'm sure plenty of respondents who favor tolls do so under the assumption that they will not use the new toll road very often or at all. Or if they do, it will be a shiny new road and offer the perception of something gained, as opposed to having to pay more just to keep using all the same roads they are already using.

Yep - they're probably thinking "I don't drive the toll roads anyway, or there's no toll roads in my state, so I won't have to pay for it".

They're missing the part where every road will become a toll road, including the municipal road they live on, and the county route they take to get to the convenience store.

Not very feasible. More like backbones would be tolled - so one can still drive within city (at least smaller one) on gas tax. Fair or not, but this way local roads may be paid for by localities to some extent, and road warriors pay for the long haul infrastructure..

There are many toll bridges that are only a mile in length.

For cities that have an entry tax, it doesn't matter if you're driving a block or across the city.  The tax is the same. 

It goes with what SP said...there's way too many presumptions in such a poll...and as you said, many unrealistic expectations.

We've talked many times on various threads about a theory that every car will have a transponder in the future, tracking you where you go.  In theory, it's not hard to set up transponder readers at nearly every intersection that records when you go thru that intersection.  In populated areas, they can do this at every intersection with a traffic light.  It's fairly impossible to go very far without passing thru an intersection without one.  The traffic light system at that intersection is probably a more complicated, costly endeavor than the transponder readers needed. 

And in some states, EZ Pass readers are already tracking you anonymously in order to compute travel times that we see on the VMS boards.  The infrastructure is there...and it's relatively easy to use. 
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jfs1988

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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2016, 01:46:30 AM »

I know yearly vehicle registrations pay for State Police/Highway Patrol, but what about adding a safety inspection to the bi-annual (California) emissions test?

A part of it could go the Highway Patrol, a part of it could go to the state DOT.
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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2016, 04:09:52 AM »

The word "tax" is the problem. It's been burned into the psyche of the American people as the root of all evil.
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jeffandnicole

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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2016, 06:34:01 AM »

I know yearly vehicle registrations pay for State Police/Highway Patrol, but what about adding a safety inspection to the bi-annual (California) emissions test?

A part of it could go the Highway Patrol, a part of it could go to the state DOT.

Those inspections cost time and money for personnel, and there's a significant investment in equipment and maintenance for that equipment, buildings to house it in, etc.

Any additional money raised, unless it's very significant, would just be going to that stuff without any extra money being available for the Highway Patrol or DOT.  And for the most part, it'll be money considered wasted as a very high majority of vehicles will pass (around 95% or so), with the remainder failing for minor violations such as a broken windshield, a light out, etc.
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8.Lug

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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2016, 06:41:11 AM »

I know yearly vehicle registrations pay for State Police/Highway Patrol, but what about adding a safety inspection to the bi-annual (California) emissions test?

A part of it could go the Highway Patrol, a part of it could go to the state DOT.

Why would you even recommend something as terrible as that? Isn't life strict enough for drivers in that state?
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #15 on: July 29, 2016, 09:22:19 AM »

I know yearly vehicle registrations pay for State Police/Highway Patrol, but what about adding a safety inspection to the bi-annual (California) emissions test?

A part of it could go the Highway Patrol, a part of it could go to the state DOT.

Why would you even recommend something as terrible as that? Isn't life strict enough for drivers in that state?

Some of us have to get emissions tests every year depending on the county....  Not that I'm in favor of something like that but I would be curious to find out what the poster had in mind with "safety."  I mean....couldn't under inflated tires technically be "unsafe" or make a car "not road worthy" in the eyes of the wrong person?
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TXtoNJ

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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #16 on: July 29, 2016, 10:21:01 AM »

The word "tax" is the problem. It's been burned into the psyche of the American people as the root of all evil.

Yep. After 40 years of telling the public that taxation is Uncle Sugar raiding your piggy bank, how can you expect people to do a 180 and see it as social responsibility?
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SP Cook

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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #17 on: July 29, 2016, 10:36:28 AM »

By my count, 16 US jurisdictions and 5 Canadian ones require a, generally annual, "safety inspection" often indicated by a sticker on the windshield or a receipt (actual or electronic) that must be presented to renew registration.  Hawaii puts its sticker on the rear bumper, which a lot of car guys object to. 

Most other states, including California, say a cop can require a motorist to get a letter from a mechanic that the car is safe if he thinks a car looks unsafe.  A few others require a one-time inspection if the car is coming in from out of state title. 

The inspection covers a list of the things you would think.  Tire tread, brakes, bulbs, horn.  Varies from state to state.

There just is no evidence that such programs work.  The number of equipment failure accidents is statistically the same. 

In my state, it is a waste.  The amount the state gets is trivial, and the amount the garage gets has not been changed in decades.  It is $12.66 total, with the state getting $3 of that.  The garage is put in the middle of having to lose customers by not offering the service, or losing money by doing so.  And also of p***ing off customers if they actually flunk a car.   And of fudging by not doing anything, since $9 is a rediculous amount to make for the work involved if you actually followed the book.

Several states have eliminated these program recently.    It is better just to take the fee charged and add it to the registration. 
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kalvado

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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #18 on: July 29, 2016, 10:41:58 AM »

I know yearly vehicle registrations pay for State Police/Highway Patrol, but what about adding a safety inspection to the bi-annual (California) emissions test?

A part of it could go the Highway Patrol, a part of it could go to the state DOT.

Why would you even recommend something as terrible as that? Isn't life strict enough for drivers in that state?

Some of us have to get emissions tests every year depending on the county....  Not that I'm in favor of something like that but I would be curious to find out what the poster had in mind with "safety."  I mean....couldn't under inflated tires technically be "unsafe" or make a car "not road worthy" in the eyes of the wrong person?

I would put brakes check, worn-out tires - and a  general shop visit for a general check-up  - as main advantage of mandatory periodic inspection. I don't know how many people would ignore everything - except for possibly oil change - as long as possible. Forcing a fix at an early stage is actually beneficial for all sides.
Now charging too much for that to pay for government service.. Pick one: either this is about safety, or it is about money.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #19 on: July 29, 2016, 10:49:44 AM »

Reading the replies...I had a thought of my own on the maintenance thing.  Now that I think about it, why not require basic car maintenance as a requirement to obtain a license in the first place and teach it in driver's education classes that already exist?  I can see maybe a three-four year mechanical certification but maybe something as simple a multipoint inspection at a service station.  I would be in favor of something if there was a benefit to the motoring public for increased education about a "safe" car and how to operate it...but how do you substantiate the value and for me it would have to be done with the purpose with safety totally in mind, not obtaining additional funding.
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kalvado

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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #20 on: July 29, 2016, 11:00:00 AM »

In my state, it is a waste.  The amount the state gets is trivial, and the amount the garage gets has not been changed in decades.  It is $12.66 total, with the state getting $3 of that.  The garage is put in the middle of having to lose customers by not offering the service, or losing money by doing so.  And also of p***ing off customers if they actually flunk a car.   And of fudging by not doing anything, since $9 is a rediculous amount to make for the work involved if you actually followed the book.

Several states have eliminated these program recently.    It is better just to take the fee charged and add it to the registration.
I don't know state you're talking about, but I wouldn't call $9 (aka 10 minutes @$55/hour rate) very inadequate. If there is another service performed (like oil change), then things are actually blended together. I mean, it doesn't really cost much to check horn, seat belt, windshield and mirrors if mechanic needs to pull the car in anyway. Guy doing filter from below the car can check underside of the car. Only relatively long and specialized thing is checking brake pad - that requres either lift or jack, pneumatic wrench and 2-3 minutes to take a wheel off. NYS requires removal of 1 wheel. 

PS: all of the above is based on having my car inspected at Valvoline (plus an oil change) done this spring.
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kalvado

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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #21 on: July 29, 2016, 11:03:05 AM »

Reading the replies...I had a thought of my own on the maintenance thing.  Now that I think about it, why not require basic car maintenance as a requirement to obtain a license in the first place and teach it in driver's education classes that already exist?  I can see maybe a three-four year mechanical certification but maybe something as simple a multipoint inspection at a service station.  I would be in favor of something if there was a benefit to the motoring public for increased education about a "safe" car and how to operate it...but how do you substantiate the value and for me it would have to be done with the purpose with safety totally in mind, not obtaining additional funding.
Not all people are actually good at technical stuff. And not all tasks are easy outside of the shop.
How do you expect petite 4'10" girl to take a wheel off to check a pad? Most people have only manual jack.. 
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #22 on: July 29, 2016, 11:19:45 AM »

Reading the replies...I had a thought of my own on the maintenance thing.  Now that I think about it, why not require basic car maintenance as a requirement to obtain a license in the first place and teach it in driver's education classes that already exist?  I can see maybe a three-four year mechanical certification but maybe something as simple a multipoint inspection at a service station.  I would be in favor of something if there was a benefit to the motoring public for increased education about a "safe" car and how to operate it...but how do you substantiate the value and for me it would have to be done with the purpose with safety totally in mind, not obtaining additional funding.
Not all people are actually good at technical stuff. And not all tasks are easy outside of the shop.
How do you expect petite 4'10" girl to take a wheel off to check a pad? Most people have only manual jack..

No but I would prefer if she knew what she was looking at when a shop gives her an inspection sheet showing how much brake pad she has left or at minimum knows why air pressure in tires important.  I had an ex that was like that and I caught her going 16,000 miles between oil changes and with 15 PSI in one tire...not from a slow leak but years of neglect.  In her instance she had so little knowledge of what was going on with her truck that it was a hazard to everyone on the road.  Any shop could have fixed the situation quickly but there was no excuse for her to be so under educated.  Anything to tone up the education level of people going for a license I'm all for.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2016, 11:23:34 AM by Max Rockatansky »
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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #23 on: July 29, 2016, 11:23:47 AM »

Reading the replies...I had a thought of my own on the maintenance thing.  Now that I think about it, why not require basic car maintenance as a requirement to obtain a license in the first place and teach it in driver's education classes that already exist?  I can see maybe a three-four year mechanical certification but maybe something as simple a multipoint inspection at a service station.  I would be in favor of something if there was a benefit to the motoring public for increased education about a "safe" car and how to operate it...but how do you substantiate the value and for me it would have to be done with the purpose with safety totally in mind, not obtaining additional funding.
Not all people are actually good at technical stuff. And not all tasks are easy outside of the shop.
How do you expect petite 4'10" girl to take a wheel off to check a pad? Most people have only manual jack..

No but I would prefer if she knew what she was looking at when a shop gives her an inspection sheet showing how much brake pad she has left or at minimum knows why air pressure in tires important.  I had an ex that was like that and I caught her going 16,000 miles between oil changes and with 15 PSI in one tire...not from a slow leak but years of neglect.  Anything to tone up the education level of people going for a license I'm all for.
Oh, come on, be realistic. Do you actually sort your clothing by color and fabric type before putting it into the washer?
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Drivers prefer tolls to taxes. Thatís too bad.
« Reply #24 on: July 29, 2016, 11:33:00 AM »

Reading the replies...I had a thought of my own on the maintenance thing.  Now that I think about it, why not require basic car maintenance as a requirement to obtain a license in the first place and teach it in driver's education classes that already exist?  I can see maybe a three-four year mechanical certification but maybe something as simple a multipoint inspection at a service station.  I would be in favor of something if there was a benefit to the motoring public for increased education about a "safe" car and how to operate it...but how do you substantiate the value and for me it would have to be done with the purpose with safety totally in mind, not obtaining additional funding.
Not all people are actually good at technical stuff. And not all tasks are easy outside of the shop.
How do you expect petite 4'10" girl to take a wheel off to check a pad? Most people have only manual jack..

No but I would prefer if she knew what she was looking at when a shop gives her an inspection sheet showing how much brake pad she has left or at minimum knows why air pressure in tires important.  I had an ex that was like that and I caught her going 16,000 miles between oil changes and with 15 PSI in one tire...not from a slow leak but years of neglect.  Anything to tone up the education level of people going for a license I'm all for.
Oh, come on, be realistic. Do you actually sort your clothing by color and fabric type before putting it into the washer?

Actually yes, my Mom was a fiend when I was a kid about cleaning....she was more strict than my drill instructor was in that regard.  :D Look, I'm talking like something maybe along the lines of 10-15 extra questions on a driver's ed test.  I'm not saying it's a save all but why not add some substance with some car safety stuff. 
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