By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA
The average American driver is only being asked to contribute 1.2 percent of their annual cost to own and operate a motor vehicle to fund federal investments in highway and transit capital improvements. The same driver spends over 11 times more than that each year for auto insurance.
A new ARTBA analysis looked at AAA’s just-released 2015 breakdown of motor vehicle ownership and operating costs and matched it with a calculation of how much the average motorist pays each year through the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax, which is dedicated to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). ARTBA’s research is the first to look at how much a driver is personally investing each year to build and maintain the important highway and transit infrastructure that is so critical to individual users and the nation as a whole.
The research found last year, the average 11,400 miles-per-year driver paid just under $97 dollars in federal gas tax. That compared to fixed costs like $1,115 for car insurance, $3,473 in auto depreciation and $669 in auto loan finance charges, according to AAA.
In March, ARTBA offered its “Getting Beyond Gridlock” proposal, which marries a 15 cents-per-gallon increase in the federal gas and diesel motor fuels tax with a 100 percent offsetting federal tax rebate for middle and lower income Americans for six years. The plan would help fund a six-year, $401 billion highway and public transit capital investment program and provide sustainable, user-based funds to support it for at least the next 10 years. Even at this higher rate, the federal gas tax would still represent only 2.2 percent of the annual cost of owning and operating a vehicle. The cost holds at just 4 percent of the total after adding state gas taxes.
ARTBA believes that by fixing roads, bridges and transit systems and funding new capital investments aimed at improving the movement of freight, the American public and business community would save time and money on annual transportation costs.