Intrastate Hazardous Materials Carriers need Better Oversight
Difficult to Track Without a Number
Intrastate hazardous materials carriers in 17 states operate with reduced oversight from the Department of Transportation and state agencies at roadside because they are not required to obtain USDOT numbers from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Because they lack USDOT numbers, they escape accountability through FMCSA’s SMS system and are more difficult for the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to track.
Required Across the Board
As part of their hazardous materials registration process, both interstate and intrastate motor carriers are required to register with PHMSA. Therefore, PHMSA should require carriers to provide a USDOT number when registering as a hazardous materials carrier.
A Sorely Needed Fee
The funding the fuel tax provides currently simply isn’t enough. Inconsistent funding from the Highway Trust Fund have led to infrastructure projects being delayed for years or cancelled. If American infrastructure is to continue expanding and improving its infrastructure, the Highway Trust Fund must be consistently and sustainably funded.
The fuel tax is not a tax in the traditional sense. It more closely resembles a user fee: individuals pay the tax in equal measure to their utilization of the roadways, highways, and bridges, which the tax funds. A tax on fuel only affects those who drive cars.
Stable and consistent infrastructure funding is necessary for the U.S. economy to continue to grow and prosper. For that reason, simply increasing the tax will not be sufficient, as inflation will continue to fluctuate, and fuel efficiency will gradually improve. Indexing the fuel tax to both inflation and fuel efficiency ensures that the price of the fuel tax will not fall behind or stay higher than the level of the American economy.
Increasing the fuel tax may seem like a waste of time while fully electric vehicles are on the streets right now. The transfer to electric cars is still distant, though. Recent statistics indicate that electric cars make up less than one percent of all cars on the road, and less than two percent of new cars sales. This may be an issue for infrastructure funding in the distant future, but electric vehicles are far from endangering the usefulness of the fuel tax.