Participants sought for Road User Study

Baltimore chosen as 1 of 6 test sites in the Nationwide Road User Study -- 200 drivers from 7 Baltimore counties will participate in cutting edge research that will help find new ways to pay for roads in the future.

BALTIMORE, MD (October 5, 2008) -- The University of Iowa Public Policy Center is looking for drivers in seven Baltimore area counties to participate in a national study that will test a new approach to financing the nation's roadways. The system, which uses on-board computers, may one day replace the gas tax. A new approach is needed because the current gas tax is steadily becoming less effective, according to center experts.

The Iowa study tests an approach that will allow drivers to pay only for the actual number of miles they travel, whereas, currently, drivers pay for roads through the number of gallons of gas they use.

A small computer installed in participants' vehicles will store a record of miles and road use. They will then be uploaded to a central database, much like that used by credit card companies, which will distribute the funds to the states, counties or cities in which the travel took place. If the system were to be put into practice, the vehicle owner would then receive a periodic bill. For the study, however, no money will be collected. And, all of this will be accomplished while strictly protecting the privacy of motorists.

Beginning on October 20 th through November 10 th, the study will recruit Baltimore drivers from 7 counties: Anne Arundel, Baltimore , Baltimore City, Carroll, Harford, Howard and Kent counties. 200 Participants will be paid $895 over the 10-month study.

The Baltimore area has been chosen as one of six text markets in the U.S. Drivers in 5 other cities are also being sought for the study including drivers in: San Diego , CA ; Austin , TX ; the Research Triangle in North Carolina ; Boise , ID , and Eastern Iowa . The goals of the study are to test whether the approach is user-friendly, secure, trouble-free and acceptable to drivers.

All transactions are private, and the system is not intended to monitor where a vehicle is at a particular time, recording only the total miles driven in a particular state or community.

The road user study is funded by a $16.5 million federal grant as part of the 2005 Highway Bill passed by the U.S. Congress to test the system across the nation.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is looking at alternative methods of maintaining roadways because of depleting transportation funds. Currently, the Highway Trust Fund supports transportation infrastructure and receives a majority of its funds from the motor fuel tax, which is imposed on every gallon of gasoline purchased. Over the past ten years, because of the continued improvement in fuel efficiency and increase in use of hybrid and cell cars, the motor fuel tax has failed to generate sufficient funds. An important attribute of the mileage-based approach is that it can accommodate any form of vehicle propulsion.

Interested individuals should visit www.roaduserstudy.org or call 866-363-1975 (toll free) for complete study information and to fill out a participant recruitment survey.

Kevin Leibel of innovation Management, LLC is available to answer any questions you may have at 919 933-4676 or 919 949-2082. His email address is Kevin@innovationmanagement.com

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Media Contacts

Caroline Dickson
919.962.5835
dickson@hsrc.unc.edu

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