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The need for road surface maintenance is greatly attributable to the heaviest vehicles. Based on the findings of the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) road test, damage caused by heavy trucks was long thought to increase with approximately the fourth power of the axle load. This means that one axle of 10 tons on a heavy truck was 160,000 times more damaging to a road surface than an axle of 0.5 tons (car scale).
In recent years, however, it was determined that the relationship between axle weights and pavement damage is complex and varies based on numerous variables, including environmental factors, type of terrain and roadway design. The National Pavement Cost Model (NAPCOM), which is the pavement model currently used by FHWA, estimates that for some types of pavement deterioration, doubling the axle load causes 15 to 20 times as much damage; for other types of deterioration, doubling the load only doubles the damage.
The U.S. Department of Transportation in its most recent Highway Cost Allocation Study estimated that light single-unit trucks, operating at less than 25,000 pounds, pay 150 percent of their road costs while the heaviest tractor-trailer combination trucks, weighing over 100,000 pounds, pay only 50 percent of their road costs.3
The volume of truck freight has grown significantly over the past few decades. Between 1975 and 1995, domestic intercity tonnage carried by trucks grew 52 percent over a fairly static system of highways. Looking forward, the freight tonnage carried by trucks is expected to increase 50 percent between 2002 and 2035.4
The HVUT levels the playing field by ensuring that operators of heavy trucks pay a little more for the highway network relative to the motorists and light trucks who meet their responsibility through other forms of taxes (e.g., registration fees, motor fuel taxes) but do less damage to the system.
reply to post by phantomjack
Actually this is quite logical. I believe the gasoline tax would go away in lieu of this type of system. It's true that the GPS system is less than ideal, but they already know where you are at all times because of your cell phone so that's not such a big issue.
It helps allocate funds to the roads and areas you drive on the most and ensure that people that are driving more are paying more regardless of MPG.
Now, will they find some way to screw it up? Probably….
Just as a side FYI…the gasoline tax hasn't gone up in about 20 years even as costs have skyrocketed. The trust that funds road repairs and projects is also nearly (or possibly now) insolvent.edit on 27-10-2013 by Esotarious because: (no reason given)