Drivers who cause crashes because they’re wolfing down hamburgers or applying mascara would face fines under a transportation plan outlined recently by Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Peter Hutchinson.
Hutchinson’s five-point plan included more conventional provisions including a 10-cent gas tax increase, but what stood out was his ire at “dumb driving,” which he blamed for a quarter of the congestion on state roads.
“You crash, you pay,” Hutchinson said at a Capitol news conference. “Your insurance premium is probably going to go up, but what about the penalty being paid by 25,000 drivers who are sitting in traffic waiting for you to get your traffic cleared?”
The gas tax increase and other funding reallocations would raise about $7 billion for transportation over a decade. Hutchinson said he also supports a ban on cell phone use while driving, more toll roads on major freeways to get drivers to car pool or take transit, and more rail lines in the Twin Cities.
As cars become more efficient, he said he wants to look into a way to tax drivers for the miles they drive, instead of the gas they consume.
Saying Minnesota’s roads are at their worst in 20 years, Hutchinson criticized Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau, who doubles as transportation commissioner. He said he would appoint a “qualified leader” instead of a politician.
Molnau headed the House Transportation Finance Committee for years before becoming lieutenant governor in 2003.