The old model of collecting taxes on gasoline to pay for roads has got to change. The reason is increasing vehicle fuel efficiency and the coming of electric cars. Indeed, everything these days is geared towards reducing fuel consumption while driving, so using gasoline as a tax base will have increasingly diminishing returns.
The avenue of choice for establishing a new tax base for building and maintaining roadways is focusing on miles driven, not fuel consumed. While this approach seems intuitively fair, I contend it is partially not. The true measure of what someone should pay for driving our public roadways is the damage their use causes, not just the distance they travel.
If 18-wheelers were banned from highways they wouldn’t need re-paving for many decades, while electric cars are so lightweight that they are like butterflies on the roadways. It’s not the amount of use that damages roadways most, it is the weight of that use, and that’s what should be taxed most. While mileage needs to be the basis worked from, the primary calculation should focus on how much a vehicle weighs.
A person driving a 2-ton SUV should have to pay more in road taxes than someone driving a half-ton car. And 40,000 pound semi-trucks should have to pay through the nose for the damage their weight causes. (This would help incentivize moving freight from our freeways to our railways.)
Taxing vehicles by miles driven with a geometric multiplier based on weight is the way to go.