This Nature item advocates taxing EVs by weight, saying because batteries are heavy, models say EVs will result in more highway fatalities (all things being equal – but what if they have better automated collision avoidance?)

The goal, it says, is to reduce the weight of vehicles. Okay on that goal, mostly.

But then it veers off to suggest a need to tax people on distance traveled to discourage us from traveling at all.

Have been reading many history books lately – and this seems reminiscent of “know your place peasants” thinking – where the elite will travel all they want. This is primarily about controlling the people.

Adding travel distance to the fee would also incentivize people to drive less. Oregon is piloting such a programme, giving owners the option to base their registration fees on the distance they drive in a year (at a rate of roughly 1.1 cents per kilometre) in lieu of fixed annual fees. Travel data can be collected by on-board devices; some insurance companies already offer policies that are based on total mileage and other driving habits.

Source: Make electric vehicles lighter to maximize climate and safety benefits

The goal, it says, is to encourage everyone to walk, ride a bike or use “public transport” and oddly says riding a bike is “safer, more convenient”.

First, based on the data, bikes are not safer. Because we mostly do not collect data on crashes and most injuries, we have no hard data on which to evaluate this claim. Estimates are about half a million bike related injuries are treated at ERs in the U.S. every year (yet only 1-2% of the population today commutes by bike). Those injuries are the only ones likely to be reported. Estimates are that there are 1-2 million bike related injuries every year that are self treated or treated by the family doctor. Now, increase the number of bicycle commuters from 1-2% to 10-20% – what do you think will happen to the number of injuries?

Second, as someone who has suffered a fractured skull, and later broke two bike helmets in crashes that knocked me out and broke other bones, the government may push everyone to bikes without considering the range of health impacts.

Bike crashes are the largest cause of traumatic brain injuries seen in ERs in the U.S. Brain injuries can become lifelong injuries too.

Or that not everyone – the disabled (visible and invisible), the elderly, small children and families with small children – and people living in mountains (Netherlands, or Davis, CA often cited as a bike meccas, are flat) may not find biking to be convenient.

Note – for more than 15 years I commuted everywhere by bike, up to 13 miles one-way to work, even doing so after having suffered multiple brain injuries and broken bones in bike crashes. I even took an infant child to day care, in a bike child seat.

After my bike commuting days ended, I continued to ride recreationally until 8 years ago. Since then, two physicians have advised me to no longer bike due to the risks of cumulative risk of experiencing another knock out blow.

UPDATE: That didn’t take long. The Federal government is proposing a “voluntary” per mile fee for using the nation’s roads, as part of the “infrastructure” bill, as a preliminary test of per mile fees. Probably about as voluntary as the vaccine mandates! (Note – I am fully vaccinated and I encourage all who can do so, to get vaccinated.)

Oregon already charges EV owners a surcharge as part of their annual registration fee. It works like this:

  • EPA mpg rating of 0-19 MPG, $122 fee
  • EPA mpg rating of 20-30 MPG, $132 fee
  • EPA mpg rating of 40+ MPG, $152 fee
  • All EVs: $306.

License fees are paid in two year terms in Oregon. Thus, the EV owner pays $612. If you sell a vehicle before 2 years, you do not get a refund of the excess you paid, so the state gets to collect, on average, one additional year of fees whether EV or ICE powered.

Oregon is also running a voluntary per mile fee based system. They argue it would be, on average, revenue neutral. However, using their own calculator, for my Honda Fit, the annual costs would be twice as much as today. And I average half as many miles as they assume a vehicle is driven each year.

By EdwardM