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The state of Tennessee has added a pair of new DUI laws just in time for the 4th of July holiday.
US Senator Charles Schumer from New York, says he will introduce a bill that will prevent rental cars affected by recalls from being offered to customers.
The rental car industry in the U.S. has already proposed a ‘two-tier’ system, whereby vehicles with more serious recalls would be taken out of service immediately, while those with less serious safety problems would remain in fleets until the problem could be addressed.
However, Schumer feels that the proposed system simply doesn’t go far enough. ”The latest proposal by car rental companies to create a vague double-standard that defines some recalled cars as safe and others as dangerous allows these companies to shirk their responsibility to consumers’ safety,” he said.
As it currently stands, all vehicle owners, including rental car agencies must decide for themselves whether to continue operating vehicles or have them taken off the road for repairs, based on information provided to them by both the manufacturer and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Schumer believes that by not pulling all recalled vehicles off the road until they’re fixed, the rental car agencies are “more interested in reaping profit than ensuring the safety of individuals or families driving their cars.”
Federal legislators have begun examining ways to tax highway users based on Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) as a way to bring up shortfalls to the Highway Trust Fund.
A concern is that as fuel-efficient hybrids and plug-in cars increase, fuel tax generated revenues will do little for the already insufficient funding base.
In a Congressional Budget Office report released last week, ways were examined in great detail to begin tracking vehicles across the country via GPS, electronic sensors, and other sophisticated technology.
The Obama administration has said it wants $566 billion over the next six years to pay for the federal portion of roadway building improvements. States and local municipalities also pay for these projects.
Since 2008, the general fund had to be tapped for $30 billion to make up for deficits. Presently, gasoline is taxed at 18.4 cents per gallon, and diesel at 24.4 cents. This has been used until recently to raise needed revenues, but the U.S. DOT says it is now not enough.
Earlier in March, the Senate Budget Committee expressed concerns over super efficient vehicles getting away without paying an equitable share.
The CBO report was quickly generated to give policymakers info to better propose new road tax legislation. Other concerns raised by the CBO study are for lower income, urban, and rural dwellers. It made a case that VMT-based taxation could be more equitable, if not entirely so.
Concerns over citizens’ privacy would need to be tackled, as VMT monitoring involves nationwide tracking and reporting of drivers’ data. Also, figuring out how to fairly tax heavy trucks compared to much-lighter cars and many other issues would need to be settled.
Any possible scenario could be proposed. For example, fuel taxes could be eliminated, with the VMT taking over. Fuel taxes could be reduced, with VMT taking up the slack. Fuel taxes could be raised, and no move to impose the VMT could be chosen.
A report out of Europe claims that BMW and General Motors are collaborating on a system that will scan road signs, including speed limit warnings and relay the information to drivers. The system still has a few kinks being worked out, but the objective is for the system to be able to display warning signs as well as speed limits for any road the car is being driven on.
Technology like this might add a little pizazz to an otherwise unremarkable car, but there’s certainly the prospect of a slippery slope with this sort of system. Invasive speed limits mandated by the government might not be far off, and that could quickly spell an end to one of the greatest pleasures of driving, the complete autonomy one has when behind the wheel of a car.