Tagged for higher costs Fees: 'The cost of materials' is driving up title and license plate renewal prices.

Intrepid Commuter

September 22, 1997

YOU'LL HAVE to pony up more cash at the Motor Vehicle Administration for title and tag renewals beginning Oct. 1, officials say.

The new $20 title fee -- an increase from $15 -- with an increase in the cost of a license plate, to $15 from $12, reflects "the cost of materials," an MVA spokeswoman said last week. The charge for tags bearing any logo also will rise, to $25 from $15 per plate.

And it'll also cost more for duplicate and corrected titles. That charge is going to $20, from $10.

Fees last changed in 1993, when MVA bureaucrats decided to lower the cost of logo plate fees to $15 from $25. Now that cost is going right back to where it was.

Intrepid One investigated this price increase last week and found that "production" costs include plates, registration renewal notices, stickers, registration certificates, application, postage and microfilming.

Other costs relating to direct labor, or personal contact with an MVA employee, include verbal information, mailing preparation, processing old tags, cashiering, filing and microfilming.

In June 1994, it cost MVA officials $12.91 for a mail-in license tag renewal, a cost that has increased to $15.73 this June, MVA officials said.

That means the agency is losing 73 cents per tag issued, according to the list of costs to which the bureaucracy must adhere when granting drivers a Maryland tag.

Please, let me over at 'courtesy' intersection

In response to an issue raised by your wheelster last week about the perils of Padonia Road during rush hour, a gentle reader has offered a suggestion.

The Padonia problem, you may recall, stems from too many commuters trying to jam the two-lane thoroughfare each morning and afternoon rush hour -- particularly as Padonia intersects Greenpoint Road.

State Highway Administration officials and county traffic engineers have studied the problem and suggested placing a traffic light near the Interstate 83 ramp.

But that didn't sit well with Jim Watson, who travels that area frequently.

"I'm suggesting that the Padonia-Greenpoint intersection become the nation's first 'courtesy intersection,' " Watson wrote Intrepid.

He went on to say that a courtesy intersection would include all the usual lane markings but contain a unique sign that states "Courteous Intersection Ahead: Please Cooperate."

Watson goes on to say: "You'll note the words 'please,' 'cooperate,' 'courteous' -- the reasons being that I sincerely believe that most drivers will be courteous and cooperate."

He concludes by stating: "It certainly wouldn't cost much to try and, who knows, it may be the start of a whole new positive driving experience."

Not to rain on your parade, Jim, but Intrepid wonders if "mandated" courtesy has a snowball's chance of making it in today's society that seems more consumed with road rage than driver cooperation.

In a perfect world, maybe the very generous courtesy intersections would work. Nice try.

Are you driving 'safe' car? Insurance study takes look

Drivers of Chevrolet Camaros and two other models from General Motors Corp. stood a greater-than-average chance of dying in traffic accidents from 1992 to 1996, a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has concluded.

The Camaro averaged 2.95 deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles, according to the study released last week.

Among other high-risk vehicles cited, the Geo Tracker averaged 2.64 deaths, while the Pontiac Firebird averaged 2.60 and the Hyundai Scoupe 2.55.

GM, the nation's largest automaker, rejected the findings, saying that drivers -- not cars -- cause most fatal accidents.

Drivers play a role in fatal crashes, but super-fast vehicles cause them to drive faster than they otherwise would, said the insurance group's president, Brian O'Neill. He faulted GM and other automakers for making cars that can go well above 100 mph.

The institute used vehicle registrations and federal accident data to calculate the driver death rates of 141 vehicles between the 1991 and 1995 model years.

The study found that small and midsize sports cars, small two- and four-door cars, and small pickups and sport utility vehicles had the highest death rates, while passenger vans, station wagons, large four-door cars and large sport utilities had the lowest rates.

Other vehicles with high death rates included the Hyundai Elantra four-door sedan, the two-door Ford Escort, the Nissan 300ZX and Chevrolet Corvette sports cars, the Mitsubishi series small pickup, and the Geo Tracker 4x4, the study concluded.

Vehicles found to have lower fatality rates included the Lexus ES 300, Volvo 850 and Nissan Maxima four-door sedans, and the Chevrolet Lumina APV, Chevrolet Caprice and Toyota Previa wagons and vans.

Shortcuts

The Federal Trade Commission last week made final a settlement with Exxon Corp. forcing the company to tell consumers that higher-octane gasoline is not necessarily better for their cars, Intrepid One has learned. The FTC said Exxon was making unsubstantiated advertising claims about the ability of Exxon gasoline to clean engines and reduce maintenance costs. Part of the settlement requires scientific evidence for any future claims that octane ratings above 87 assure smoother combustion and efficiency. Despite the settlement, Exxon has not admitted any wrongdoing.

Keep in touch

You can mail, send by fax or call in questions or comments for the Intrepid Commuter. Here's how:

Mail letters -- The Sun, 1300 Bellona Ave., Lutherville 21093.

Fax line -- 410-494-2916.

Call Sundial, The Baltimore Sun's telephone information service. 410-783-1800, enter ext. 4305. From Anne Arundel County, dial 410-268-7736.

Pub Date: 9/22/97

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