ODOT Conducting Pay-Per-Mile Pilot Project to Compare Gas Tax and Capture EV Analytics

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is conducting a study to determine whether Oklahoma drivers should be taxed per mile instead of at the gas pump. Mindy Ragan Wood with the Oklahoma Voice published an article on Tuesday detailing the Fair Miles Oklahoma pilot project.

The project is identified as a pay-per-mile alternative to the existing 20-cent tax that is added to each gallon of fuel. The study was authorized in 2021 by the Oklahoma Legislature and must be completed no later than Dec. 31, according to House Bill 1712.

ODOT spokesperson Bryce Boyer said as cars become more fuel-efficient and more drivers choose electric vehicles, the gas tax revenue used to repair roads and bridges is expected to decline. The study will develop a per-mile rate to match the current gas tax rate for a possible replacement model.

The study’s cost is estimated at $3.9 million. ODOT will pay $1.9 million, and the remaining $1.9 million will be paid using a federal alternative transportation grant.

Findings of the study could lead to a per-mile charge or “other options,” said Boyer. “The program is designed to be fair and equitable, ensuring all drivers in the state pay for using roads.”

The study includes vehicles of varying fuel efficiency levels, from older cars with 8 mpg to electric and hybrid fuel cars with more than 40 mpg.

More than 440 Oklahoma drivers across 63 counties have volunteered since June to report their mileage to the agency, according to the article. The drivers receive a mock invoice with a simulated charge for the miles driven and provide feedback to ODOT. Drivers do not owe any money during the study.

Volunteers report mileage through a variety of methods, including submitted photographs of the odometer via an app, an automatic-reporting device attached to the vehicle or internal vehicle technology similar to OnStar.

“These options allow us to accept more vehicle types and allows participants to choose which option works best for them,” said Boyer.

Other options to recoup fuel tax revenue would be up to the Legislature to consider. The study is evaluating the gas tax and not examining the increase in vehicle registration. Some states have imposed higher registration fees for electric vehicles to recoup lost gas tax revenue, according to a report by CNET.

Oklahoma’s gas and diesel tax rate is among the lowest in the nation, with only four other states reporting below 20 cents. The top three states with the highest gas tax rates are California at 62.9 cents; Pennsylvania at 57.6 cents; and Washington at 49.4 cents.

ODOT officials said 19 other states are conducting similar studies. Some are implementing pay-per-mile programs.