It’s not just that we have bad drivers here in Maryland (though that’s true). It’s also the sixth most exploitative state for motorists, according to a new study by the National Motorists Association.
The study looked at how fairly states enforce traffic laws — that is, do they have realistic speed limits? Are there a ton of red-light cameras? How much money does the state raise from motorists, either through tolls or tickets? As you might imagine, especially given the recent controversy over Baltimore’s speed cameras, we didn’t measure up all that well.
But before you get all up in arms, consider how all five states that were ranked more exploitative than Maryland — DC, New York, Delaware, New Jersey, and Vermont — are all along the East Coast, most of them along the busy I-95 corridor while the study’s most driver-friendly states — Wyoming, North Dakota, Utah, Mississippi, and Montana — have a lot fewer people (and cars), and a lot more empty space. All those regulations requiring motorists to wear seatbelts, stop texting, and keep within the speed limit make a lot more sense here than out in the middle of nowhere.
Nonetheless, the NMA sees this as a clear example of driver exploitation: “With close to 200 million licensed drivers in the U.S., motorists represent perhaps the largest special interest group in the country,” NMA spokesperson John Bowman said in a statement. “They support government by paying billions of dollars annually in the form of state and federal gas taxes along with various other taxes, fees, tolls, and traffic fines. Yet many states reciprocate by treating motorists no better than a revenue source to plug budget gaps rather than as constituents that government is designed to serve and protect.”
I moved here with a leased Rav4 from Pennsylvania. To register in Maryland, I had to pay sales tax on the full value of the vehicle, even though I did own it. They know they have you, you’re totally powerless, and I either had to break the lease and pay a huge penalty, or pay over $900 as sales tax on the remaining value of the car. Bullshit. Exploitative.
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