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Report considers impact of vehicle miles traveled tax on highway revenues



Federal report notes that while a vehicle miles traveled tax is an option to stabilize the Highway Trust Fund, it would be an expensive route to take.

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released in October is an initial step in considering revenue options to stabilize the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), the nation’s primary source of funding for roadway maintenance and construction. Based on current projections, without changes in laws to provide additional revenue for the HTF, the fund will be drained by 2022. Likewise, the annual HTF deficit of $13 billion in 2017 will continue to increase as it has almost every year since 2001.

The focus of the CBO report is a federal tax on commercial shipping via roadways based on vehicle miles traveled (VMT). The report looks at how a VMT program would alter CBO projections during the upcoming decade using 2017 baseline data.

In 2017, expenditures exceeded revenues by 31.7%. Analyzing these figures and data including the types of trucks using the highways and projected inflation rates, the CBO estimates the HTF will be insolvent within three years. The report considers how a VMT tax on commercial vehicles might improve this outlook.

The VMT tax is not a new concept. Four states—Kentucky, New Mexico, New York, and Oregon—all use a VMT tax as a revenue stream. However, the tax rates, structure of the various programs and compliance rates among truck owners vary.

For instance, Kentucky levies the tax on vehicles rated greater than 60,000 pounds. New Mexico, New York, and Oregon base tax rates on registered weights. The Kentucky tax is a flat 3 cents per mile for all trucks above the weight threshold, while the remaining states’ tax rates vary from 1-29 cents per mile depending on weight. Tax evasion rates vary between states, ranging from 3-7% in Kentucky to 30-50% in New York. Finally, incentives for payment of VMT taxes are provided. Oregon, for instance, has the nation’s highest VMT tax rates but use the revenue source as an alternative to fuel taxes for some trucks.

The CBO report focuses on three aspects of a VMT tax—the tax base; tax rate structure; and implementation methods.

Tax Base

The CBO report specifies truck type and weight ratings as considerations in which vehicles would be subject to the VMT tax.

Taxing all commercial vehicles with six or more wheels and/or weights over 10,000 pounds are one option, while taxing only combination trucks, defined in the report as trucks hauling one or more trailers, is also considered. The truck types were separated based on 2017 statistics indicating that combination trucks represent 28% of those on the highway but account for 60% of total miles driven.

Tax Rate Structure

The CBO report considered each approach the four states levying VMT taxes use in terms of tax rates. A flat rate per mile for all commercial trucks and a weight-based variable rate are options. Location and time of mileage accrual were also studied as both factors impact costs of VMT monitoring. For example, if a VMT tax is charged only on interstate miles or is increased during hours of traffic congestion, some drivers will use alternate routes, decreasing projected revenues.


Method of implementation impacts costs of a VMT tax system. CBO studied three implementation strategies including self-reported odometer readings, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) readers, and on-board electronic monitoring devices (EMD).

Self-reported odometer reading is the simplest monitoring method to implement and requires no special equipment. But odometer readings are only useful if the VMT tax is uniform. Reporting mileage driven on types of roads and locations would be difficult.

RFID systems are not novel; many states use them in assessing tolls. A vehicle’s tag number is recorded where it enters and exits the toll road, and the registered owner receives an invoice. Costs of equipment, however, would be substantial, estimated in the “tens of billions” of dollars.

CBO also considered electronic monitoring devices (EMD) as an implementation tool, estimating that 25% of trucks will soon carry EMDs to regulate driver hours behind the wheel. EMD monitoring costs will vary by the number of trucks subject to the VMT tax, and trucking firms will likely balk at the mandated expense. Driver concerns may also arise with an EMD system as many will consider government monitoring an infringement on privacy.

Report Conclusions

The CBO report suggested a VMT tax could be effective depending on the tax rate per mile.

Assuming 90% compliance, a uniform rate of 9.5 cents would match 2017 HTF revenue collected and cover the $13 billion shortfall.

In terms of consumers, the report states that a VMT tax would be regressive. Most people purchasing goods delivered by trucks are in lower income brackets, and economic reality suggests the cost of increased taxes will be absorbed by consumers. Those who pay a greater percentage of household income to cover the tax will suffer financially.

Ultimately, the report’s most important finding may be included in its introduction: “The costs to the government of implementing a VMT tax on trucks are uncertain but would be higher than the costs of the existing tax on diesel fuel.” In other words, adjusting existing revenue-generating laws would be more cost-effective than implementing a VMT tax system.

Overall, the CBO report does not provide detailed analysis of any aspect of a VMT tax. Any federal government report consisting of 43 pages can offer little more than an overview of the subject at hand. The report does, however, provide insight into the measures the government might consider keep the HTF sustainable. A VMT tax is just one of several options at lawmakers’ disposal.

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The Nation

David Isaac named TMC Transportation’s Trainer of the Month for September



DES MOINES, Iowa — David Isaac has been named TMC Transportation’s Trainer of the Month for September.

Isaac started at TMC on Valentine’s Day in 2014. He spent eight years in the military and transitioned into his job at TMC while he was still enlisted.

“TMC was the only flatbed company that stood out to me, especially the company being employee-owned,” he said.

After driving on his own for a year and a half, Isaac decided to give driver training a try.

“The instruction aspect of the job was interesting to me,” he said. “There are multiple ways to do one job, but I wanted to make sure that the end result is what is required of our company standards.”

When it comes to his training style, Isaac takes a supervising role.

“I try to let my trainees do as much as they can on their own, but I keep a close eye on them so I can correct them as needed,” he says. “I feel like this is the best way for them to get a feel of what it will be like once they have their own truck.”

Isaac’s favorite part of training is meeting other drivers and helping to be a part of their success. “It’s great to see new guys do well,” he said, adding that it is great for the company and himself as a driver.

“You can learn even while you’re teaching, whether it be a load you wouldn’t normally or discovering a more efficient way to do things,” he said.

Overall, Isaac is grateful for the opportunities he’s had while driving for TMC.

“From the discipline it takes to do the job to the relationships I have built with my peers, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else,” he said.

Each month a TMC Transportation trainer who demonstrates the outstanding qualities TMC looks for in a trainer is honored. The Trainer of the Month recipient is chosen based on their safety record and the safety performance of their trainees, the number of drivers trained and the retention percentage of those drivers.

For more information, visit












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The Nation

SBTC’s anti-ELD petition stalls, Lamb uses ‘phone call’ to put blame on OOIDA



Small Business in Transportation Coalition President James Lamb tells viewers his investigators have uncovered evidence that the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is sabotaging his organization’s efforts to get 100,000 signatures on a petition to ask the White House to immediately suspend the ELD mandate. (Courtesy: SMALL BUSINESS IN TRANSPORTATION COALITION)

In an online editorial we posted August 22, we described the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) as positioning itself to be a one-organization wrecking crew targeting the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the electronic logging device mandate.

In particular, SBTC and its president, James Lamb, have been on a tear against electronic logging devices.

(This is the same James Lamb who in early 2018 agreed to settle a probe into his business dealings brought by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which accused Lamb and several of his businesses of cheating owner-operators out of millions of dollars over the course of several years. Lamb denied the charges, but the FTC is in the process of paying out $900,000 to truckers who the FTC says were scammed.) 

After the FMCSA denied its application asking that carriers with under 50 employees be exempted from the ELD mandate, SBTC asked FMCSA to reconsider the denial. 

With no apparent hope that FMCSA would reverse its decision (remember ELDs were ordered by Congress), Lamb and SBTC have moved up the ladder to Congress and now to the White House.


Currently, SBTC is asking drivers to sign a petition asking Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and President Donald Trump to immediately suspend the ELD rule.

SBTC says it needs to have 100,000 signatures (it’s not likely to happen) before the White House will respond to the request to suspend the rule (that’s not going to happen).

On October 31, Lamb published an e-mail asking the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association to join SBTC in support of the petition.

Lamb apparently never heard from OOIDA, and with his petition drive stalled at around 30,000, Lamb decided to blame OOIDA for the slowdown and appears to have set out to make his point with an elaborate scheme that he is reporting through his e-mail blasts to the media and others, claiming that OOIDA is sabotaging his petition effort.

In a video released at 5:20 p.m. Central time November 11, Lamb said he had some “disturbing” information regarding the ELD suspension petition.

“We have through our private investigators uncovered that OOIDA has been sabotaging our petition. We hired a private investigator to follow up on leads that we have received regarding possible interferences with our petition and boy, did we find out what’s going on here.

“I’m going to play you the tape the investigators sent me (actually the tape of the phone call made only hours or maybe even minutes before) so you can listen to it yourself and boy is it bad news for Todd Spencer (OOIDA president and CEO) and this woman … at OOIDA.”

That “call” was obviously definitely recorded November 11 because the caller mentioned having to work on the holiday, which was Veterans Day. The man said his name was Mike (he also used the name Michael).

It was easy to tell the call was a set up because the man who identified himself as Mike was obviously and purposely speaking into a recording device and recording the other end of the call from a speaker phone.

(An average observer would likely have thought the call was legitimate and that Lamb’s investigators had worked hard to uncover it, but we rather suspect it was a set up and the tape was handed to him shortly after it was made. Or he might even have been in the room when the “call” was made.

A transcript of the tape shows Mike told the woman at OOIDA he wasn’t a member of OOIDA but had heard about the petition campaign and wanted to know if OOIDA was in support of the petition.

He even claimed he’d never heard of James Lamb.

The woman at OOIDA offered to send Mike information about Lamb.

She asked for his e-mail address and after a long hesitation he gave two: and

E-mails sent to those addresses by The Trucker bounced back as undeliverable. (Surprise, surprise).

Based on the transcript, Mike kept trying to coerce the woman into telling him not to sign the petition (the “call” lasted almost 15 minutes), but not once did she do that, only suggesting that petitions were not effective in getting change in Washington.

Contacting members of Congress is the most effective way, she said, citing an instance when OOIDA and its members contacted a Congressman, contacts that led to him reversing his support of speed limiters.

The woman told Mike that some members of OOIDA had signed the petition.

Mike kept on and on, obviously and in the opinion of this writer hoping the woman would tell him not to sign the petition, but the woman said absolutely nothing to discourage drivers from signing the petition.

At one point, the woman reminded Mike that OOIDA had been fighting against ELDs and their predecessors since 1978.

After the tape of the telephone “call” ended on his video, Lamb reiterated that OOIDA had done everything in its power to keep truckers from signing the petition.

“Mr. Spencer it looks like we have a problem. Our legal team (the same one that handed Lamb the tape of the supposed phone call) is going to be reviewing this and you are going to have some explaining to do to a judge,” he said.

We too, have a problem, and it’s with Mr. Lamb trying to lay the blame for his failure directly on someone else.

We call on Mr. Lamb and his organization to get off his anti-ELD horse.

That horse is in the barn, sir, and it’s not coming out.

If you are as powerful as you say you are, turn that power into doing something about the real issues that plague trucking today, matters such as driver pay, the lack of safe parking and driver detention, just to name a few.

OOIDA and many others in the trucking industry are really concerned about those issues.

So should you be.



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The Nation

Please grab hold. Please grab hold.



As things turn colder around America, here is yet another video of a truckers ice encounter.
You know in their mind they were repeating… “please grab hold”!
Location: Somewhere along Lake Shore Drive in Decatur, IL.

Courtesy: WANDTV

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