Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Better roads, less accidents? 

Michael noted a comment by state Senator Steve Murphy that raised an eyebrow:

Minnesotans would pay more for gasoline with the DFL bill, Murphy said, but they will see transportation improvements.

�They�re definitely going to notice a difference because their roads are going to get fixed,� he said. �That�s the bottom line here, fixing roads and lowering the (vehicle crash) fatality rate.�

The state�s gas tax is 20 cents a gallon. Indexing would have resulted in a rate of 31.4 cents a gallon in 10 years, nonpartisan legislative experts said. By removing the inflation provision, the tax should be 28.5 cents a gallon by 2018.

Two thoughts: First, if I am driving on a better road, don't I drive faster? Potholes tend to slow me down. What part of building new roads leads to lower fatality rates? Certainly not during construction. If more and better roads leads to increased driving, will this increase or decrease the number of fatalities of vehicle occupants? I realize he said fatality rate, but as a matter of public policy do I care more about rates or about the number of fatalities?

Sounds like another job for cost-benefit analysis.

Meanwhile, did anyone notice how 7.5 cents of increase plus indexing became 8.5 cents? It appears the rate goes up five cents in September and then a half-cent a year after next if I read this right. I need to run off to something now, but I'll update this if I can draw a comparison between this and the old bill. The headline figures show a decrease in the total dollars spent, but they always sum 2015 dollars and 2008 dollars at the same value, ignoring discounting.

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