Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Transportation Privacy

GPS-Based System For Driving Tax Being Field Tested 891

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Apparently, since gas consumption is going down and fuel efficient cars are becoming more popular, the government is looking into a new form of taxation to create revenue for transportation projects. This new system is a 'by-the-mile tax,' requiring GPS in cars so it can track the mileage. Once a month, the data gets uploaded to a billing center and you are conveniently charged for how much you drove. 'A federal commission, after a two-year study, concluded earlier this year that the road tax was the "best path forward" to keep revenues flowing to highway and transportation projects, and could be an important new tool to help manage traffic and relieve congestion. ... The commission pegged 2020 as the year for the federal fuel tax, currently 18.5 cents a gallon, to be phased out and replaced by a road tax. One estimate of a road tax that would cover the current federal and state fuel taxes is 1 to 2 cents per mile for cars and light trucks.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

GPS-Based System For Driving Tax Being Field Tested

Comments Filter:
  • by ls671 (1122017) * on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:37AM (#28543071) Homepage

    It seems to me like GPS provides other features than mileage tracking which the government could use.

    If we are only concerned about tracking the mileage, there is already nice tool that does just this, couldn't it be used to also display how much it costs us in real time ? ;-)))

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taximeter [wikipedia.org]

    • by wjousts (1529427) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:40AM (#28543123)

      There's another really nice tool that has the advantage that EVERY car already has one:

      Odometer [wikipedia.org]

      • by binarylarry (1338699) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:40AM (#28543147)

        Think of the government lobbyists, you insensitive clod!

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          I try not to. The doctor said not to get my blood pressure up that high.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by afidel (530433)
        Neither address splitting of revenue between states for truckers or people living near state boarders.
        • by wjousts (1529427) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:49AM (#28543319)
          Since it's a federal tax, it doesn't really matter where you drive from the point-of-view of collecting taxes. How you dole out that money for highway projects is a problem however.
          • by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @12:01PM (#28543577)

            It does if the states decide to piggyback off the service as well, and you can rest assured that they'll want to. Since federal fuel taxes are dropping it means state fuel taxes are also declining for the exact same reasons. They'll likely want to use this system to tax drivers on their state roads, and to do that you need the accuracy & tracking that GPS provides.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by ITJC68 (1370229)
              Taking government at face value and looking at their past they will introduce this but not totally do away with the fuel tax. It will be rolled back into effect so we are then paying for both. States like California and Illinois will be the first to tack on state taxes as well. I just got a GPS for my vehicle and it is a nice tool for travel but for the government to take something like this to "tax" people is just too much. This requirement alone will raise the cost of every vehicle because it will require
              • by stabiesoft (733417) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @05:16PM (#28549877) Homepage

                Agreed. It would be so much cheaper to just raise the fuel tax. The mechanism is already in place (gas stations collect it, just change the amount if you need more money) and by taxing fuel not miles, it encourages fuel economy. I just don't get it. Unless of course the real reason is to track everyone.

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by mrjb (547783)

                  It would be so much cheaper to just raise the fuel tax. The mechanism is already in place (gas stations collect it, just change the amount if you need more money)

                  This is EXACTLY the reaction the politicians want from you.

                  Politician A: Let's raise the fuel tax!
                  Politician B: We can't, the people will revolt!
                  Politician A: Okay, let's propose installing GPS in every car then- people will be only too happy to accept a higher fuel tax instead!

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Lawrence_Bird (67278)

              Yes, its called TOLL ROADS. They exist. Once again a solution looking for a problem. Why is it so hard to simply raise the fuel tax? Or better yet, why is it so hard for the government (federal / state / local) to live within their means?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by geekprime (969454)

            Umm, the data is coming off a GPS unit, all they have to do (and trust me they have this in mind already) is say, Oh, we need to know where you go so we know where to send the tax money and suddenly they have a "legitimate" and "reasonable" reason to track each persons vehicular movements.
            To think that that data would not be subject to the same "mission creep" that every other government collection of anything is subject to is ludicrous.

            Even if the initial legislation explicitly forbids any other uses they

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          The more I read about the Feds trying to impose new taxes while simultaneously trying to acquire new personal data the more I want to start an art project called "myspieduponlife.com." This project will consist of paying a willing participant to film and record all details of their life and upload the content daily to a website for global peer review.

          I think I would get a sense of a couple things from this project; how much data is used to completely document a single humans daily life, and how much of
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mea37 (1201159)

        Your odometer can report how much of your mileage was on public roads? Cool!

        • by wjousts (1529427) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:51AM (#28543359)
          How much of your mileage isn't on public roads? For most people, I'd guess almost none (up and down the driveway doesn't account for much for my trip into work each day). So, tough shit. No system is going to be perfect.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Animaether (411575)

            alright, other uses; taxing more/less depending on:
            - type of road (dirt vs gravel vs concrete vs newly-laid bitumen, etc.)
            - congestion statistics
            - whether or not you're on a toll road
            - traveling speed relative to the speed limits on the road given (i.e. speeding, or slowing everybody else down. You can speed - 'go with the flow of traffic' - in the left lane, but it'll cost you extra. You can also go 60 where the limit is 70.. and it'll cost you extra.)

            And...
            - fining for speeding ;)
            - fining for running re

            • by _avs_007 (459738) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @12:56PM (#28544729)
              - fining for speeding ;)
              - fining for running red lights
              - fining for failing to stop


              GPS will not be able to do any of things passively. For example, my GPS units constantly gets confused when I drive the freeway near my house, becuase there is a side street that parallels the freeway, and in some sections, is only separated from the freeway with a simple concrete barrer. If the GPS thinks you are on the side-street when you are on the freeway, it will think the speed limit is 35 instead of 65. I know of several residential areas that are built on loops that branch off an arterial street, and run parallel and reconnect at the end of the subdivision. This street is often separated from the main street with a simple curb. If GPS thinks you are on the loop that runs parallel it will think the speed limit is 25 instead of 45.

              Likewise, there are several intersections in our metro area, where there is a protected lane that bypasses the signals, as it's separated with fixed cones. If the GPS doesn't know you are in the protected lane, it will think you are running a red light.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bconway (63464)

            How much of your mileage isn't on public roads? For most people, I'd guess almost none (up and down the driveway doesn't account for much for my trip into work each day). So, tough shit. No system is going to be perfect.

            And if 99% was good enough, you'd be missing a paycheck every two years.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by raddan (519638) *
            It depends on where you live. If, e.g., you live in Massachusetts, you're right, almost all driving is on public roads (except Worcester... but that's a different story). But if you live in Maine, the majority of your driving might be on private roads. Some of those private roads, like the ones in the North Maine Woods, you're already paying the logging company to use.

            I think that per-mile taxes are the way to go. It more accurately represents usage, which is what you really want to tax in order to k
      • by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:50AM (#28543331)

        There's another really nice tool that has the advantage that EVERY car already has one: Odometer

        So who gets the money from that?

        Currently if I am driving in a state the state usually gets some percentage of the gas tax.

        If you are just checking the odometer, my home state gets all the money even if I travel out of state often?

        I don't like the GPS idea one bit, I'm just saying checking the odometer does not solve the problem.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Chris Burke (6130)

          So who gets the money from that?

          The Feds at least since the federal commission was first talking about a federal tax. In the case of state taxes

          Currently if I am driving in a state the state usually gets some percentage of the gas tax. If you are just checking the odometer, my home state gets all the money even if I travel out of state often?

          Yeah but so what? They can set their state tax to whatever they want, and set up whatever revenue sharing deals with other states that they want. Since the major co

        • by Shark (78448) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @12:50PM (#28544589)

          I don't like the GPS idea one bit, I'm just saying checking the odometer does not solve the problem.

          I think the problem is a government so out of control with spending and managing people's lives that it requires this much tax.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LuYu (519260)

        There's another really nice tool that has the advantage that EVERY car already has one: Odometer

        That would be all well and good if a mileage tax was really what they were after. It should be obvious to anyone who is familiar with the events over the past decade or so, however, that this is hardly the case. Now that they have identified where everybody is going on airplanes, cars are an unknown variable. This system, pawned off as a "tax" is like using the "drinking age" to get everybody to carry ID. It identifies cars -- and by extension their drivers -- with locations constantly. It is just one

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:47AM (#28543267)

      Why not tax fuel?
      - consumption is proportional to milage!
      - promotes fuel efficiency!
      - collection is easy!
      - big brother not included!

       

  • Great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by houghi (78078) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:40AM (#28543141)

    This is great, especially as there is no way to abuse this.

    • You're probably joking but I can think of a couple of inventive (and fun!) ways to abuse this. The first way to save yourself some money if this actually becomes a reality would be to simply remove the GPS device and leave it in your garage somewhere. Obviously it would have to still be functional for this to work, but I'm sure some hackerish type will figure that out.

      The second (devious and more fun way) would be a great way to get revenge on someone. Remove their GPS device from their vehicle and attac

    • Re:Great (Score:4, Informative)

      by ThinkWeak (958195) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @12:16PM (#28543867)
      I sense a touch of sarcasm. Anyways, they are basically multiplying the tax level of driving 300%.

      You would be looking at paying $300.00 in taxes annually based on a 15,000 mile a year average, if it is set at a $0.02 per mile level. Opposed to a $0.185 per gallon tax now.

      Say your vehicle holds 13 gallons and goes 30 miles per gallon. You are currently paying $2.775 in taxes for those 390 miles. Stretch that out to 15,000 miles and you are paying $106.73 a year in taxes. That is quite a leap from $106.73 to $300.00.
      • Re:Great (Score:5, Insightful)

        by keytoe (91531) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @12:35PM (#28544289) Homepage

        That is quite a leap from $106.73 to $300.00.

        You're assuming they'll drop the gasoline tax. I'm betting it's more like a leap from $106.73 to $406.73.

  • If we end up with GPS systems in every car by 2020, I'd be interested how quickly the systems are used to also track your speed whenever they want to know.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TrippTDF (513419)
      A little piece of freedom just died.
    • by CosmeticLobotamy (155360) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:48AM (#28543275)

      Most people have an EZ-pass equivalent in their car. We also have license plate reading cameras. Ticketing virtually all speeders, at least on highways, is possible now. They will never, ever do this because if you ticket all speeders, no one will speed. They will lose millions of dollars in fines, on top of creating massive anger and traffic clogs that would result in the speed limit being raised to the speed people actually go anyway.

      So it's much too good an idea and will never be done.

  • Just find where the receiver/transceiver is and pop on a Faraday Cage.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faraday_cage [wikipedia.org]

    Or, since the antenna would need to be somewhat exposed, just make a "sleeve" that blocks RF?

    Just as a show of good faith, leave it off for trips to work and pop it on during long trips? Or just leave it on and claim you're a hermit?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by blueg3 (192743)

      GPS can also be fairly easily jammed. In a number of areas (particularly with cheaper devices), it's very difficult to get reliable GPS signals, so blocking reception wouldn't be all that suspicious.

  • If they instead mandated a counter in the ECM that tracked mileage, I'd think maybe I was all for it. But they want GPS "tracking", and they're not even hiding the fact. If they want money for highway/construction projects, then just jack up the gas tax. Gas consumption is directly related to mileage driven.

    Keep your fucking GPS trackers out of my life.
  • So I guess they will have exemptions for older cars, cars that have value in original condition and adding/changing something will reduce value, etc.

    For example - what would happen to the value of my all original '65 Porsche 356 if a hole was cut in the dash, another in the body for the antenna, etc? Not to mention running whatever they design off of a 44+ year old 6v electrical system...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by FutureDomain (1073116)

      So I guess they will have exemptions for older cars, cars that have value in original condition and adding/changing something will reduce value, etc.

      They're politicians, they don't care a whit about you or your car. They care about getting reelected and getting more of your money to spend.

  • Odometer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by White Flame (1074973) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:43AM (#28543195)

    They could just check the odometer during emissions checking.

    Plus, if they go through with something like this, then they'd better eliminate the fuel taxes. (fat chance, I know)

    • Re:Odometer (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BlackSnake112 (912158) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:50AM (#28543339)

      They already do write down the mileage when you get the emissions checked. Not for the safety check I think. The info is in the DMV database. maybe the DMV database is so screwed up that the tax people do not want to touch it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wjsteele (255130)
      Oh, I'd love it if they did it during "emmissions checking." I live in Indiana, where we don't such a "big brother" concept.

      Bill
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by guruevi (827432)

      They already do in many states so they could easily use this to track taxes. On cars built after 1992 they check your odometer against rollbacks. If the odometer has been rolled back, it is reported on your title. They just want to be able to track you in more detail, see when and where you are speeding (automatic speeding tickets), see where you were the night of the murder, which protests you attended, what church you belong to etc. etc.

  • Great Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bdenton42 (1313735) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:45AM (#28543213)

    GPS would be infinitely useful for governments. In addition to tracking mileage they can automatically charge tolls and even issue speeding tickets.

    Why not just continue to raise the fuel taxes to generate revenue? That would serve to continue to reduce fuel consumption which would be a good thing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke (6130)

      hy not just continue to raise the fuel taxes to generate revenue? That would serve to continue to reduce fuel consumption which would be a good thing.

      Well the funny thing is that this isn't about being green and reducing fossil fuel consumption. For that, a gas tax does work much better. No, this is about ensuring revenue for the federal highway fund and for the states' road funds continues to come in even as fuel economies go up and alternative fuel vehicles become more popular.

      The article mentions the C

    • We've had the technology for years for 100% speeding enforcement. We don't use it because it'd kill this vital form of revenue. People would both change their behavior and make speed limits in various areas a top priority in state and local elections if they new that they'd get ticketed 100% of the time when they were speeding. The current random approach keeps the whole issue under the radar of most people. Sure you might get a speeding ticket every few years, but it's not annoying enough to actually do an
  • by COMON$ (806135)
    What ever happened to good ol toll roads? If you use the hwy it gets taken care of, if you dont, then by by.
  • GPS Jammer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bhsx (458600) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:47AM (#28543245)
    Here I was just wondering what kind of a job I'd need to have in order to need one of these: http://dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.8758 [dealextreme.com] $33 for a GPS blocker/jammer seems like it'd be a lot cheaper than paying tolls.
  • by AioKits (1235070) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:49AM (#28543297)
    We don't do shit to repair the roads as it is! If this was put into place we'd find a way to further screw over our highways. Some of these potholes are big enough the only way we get them filled is to hold a funeral in one.
  • Or... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tirerim (1108567) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:49AM (#28543309)
    They could just tax gasoline more. You know, the driving-related thing that they already tax. That has the side benefit of helping to cut down on pollution more than a flat per-mile tax, too.
  • by jnaujok (804613) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:50AM (#28543333) Homepage Journal

    See, the people will revolt if we suddenly double or triple the gas tax, which is 18.5 cents a gallon.

    But, since we're going to mandate that all cars get 35 miles per gallon, and then we charge 1 to 2 cents (and it'll be two cents, if not four by the time it gets passed), then that means we've effectively upped the gas tax to between 35 and 70 cents a gallon (or $1.40 by four cents a mile). And the great part is that, just like income tax, they won't see the per gallon increase, they just get a bill at the end of the month that they have to pay.

    Way to double, triple, or more the gas tax without looking like it.

    Also, by the law of unintended consequences, by removing the tax from the gas, it makes it more cost effective to buy an older, cheaper gas guzzler, than a new, expensive, hybrid car. Thanks for destroying the environment, morons.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Reziac (43301) *

      Yet another symptom of how the government has forgotten it exists to SERVE We The People; contrary to the direction of current policies, We The People don't exist solely to be the government's revenue stream!!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Its only more cost effective from a tax perspective. You'd be paying the same no matter what car you drive in terms of taxes, but you'd be buying 2x or more gas than the fuel efficient cars
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Pig Hogger (10379)

      See, the people will revolt if we suddenly double or triple the gas tax, which is 18.5 cents a gallon.

      They certainly did not do so when gas hit $4 a gallon

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jsprat23 (148634)

      That was my first thought too. I ran the numbers based on the summary and a 12k mi/yr average. With a car that gets 30 mpg, the annual tax comes to $74. With a car that gets 35 mpg, the tax is $63.43. With the distance based tax, the new rate is $120 or $240 per annum with the 1 and 2 cent/mi levies, respectively.

  • Bad idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by afidel (530433) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:50AM (#28543335)
    We are coming up with all sorts of expensive plans to try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the consumption of foreign oil, so why are we also trying to come up with a way to reduce the incentive to get a more fuel efficient car? Instead we should be massively increasing the tax on gasoline and possibly offering a flat rebate to counteract the regressive nature of use based taxes. That way tax revenue would keep up with decreasing demand and we would actually be naturally moving the market towards our long term goals.
  • Positive Change (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pipingguy (566974) * on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:53AM (#28543395) Homepage
    Yes we can!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes we can!

      2 year commission. Just concluded.. Hmm...

      Think about it.

      Then stfu.

  • by DRBivens (148931) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:54AM (#28543423) Journal

    Like it or not, a direct result of higher fuel prices is a drop is demand. Regardless of your views on oil production/drilling/exploration, it seems like it would be in everyone's best interest to use less fuel.

    There was once--many years ago--talk of taxing motor fuel to reduce consumption. While I never personally agreed with the proposal, the idea of removing taxes from gasoline (which would make it appear cheaper to consumers) seems like a step in the wrong direction.

    I wonder who is advising the "federal commission" on the options available to them? Why on earth would they decide a massive new taxation infrastructure was the "best path forward" unless they were being advised by someone who would benefit in some way from the massive purchase of new GPS tracking equipment?

    Call me a curmudgeon, but I'd really like to know...

  • Seriously Bad Idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rally2xs (1093023) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:54AM (#28543425)

    I work for the DoD. There are those of us that work on "black" projects that have covert everything, including travel. It would be absolutely intolerable to have a record of where a car has been, either personal or rental, for an enemy agent to exploit. If there's a meeting of folks hammering out the requirements for a new fighter jet or littoral cruiser, who goes to the meeting, where the meeting was, what time the meeting was, etc. are all way too valuable to be recorded.

    No, this idea is a non-starter for National security reasons. We won't even talk about organized crime getting ahold of it in order to track likely kidnap candidates' usual movements.

  • Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by buddhaunderthetree (318870) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:56AM (#28543455)

    Something that might get more Americans to ride bicycles.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Caste11an (898046)
      My wife works 20 miles away from our home and the only viable route to her workplace is via a freeway. I work 7 miles from our home and while I could ride a bicycle there are two things that prevent it: (1) it's unbearably hot an muggy during the summer months, and (2) even my local roads which don't require me to use the freeway are extremely dangerous -- I've never before lived in a place with such angry drivers. I couldn't agree with you more that finding alternative ways to encourage the populace to co
  • Just awful (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @12:02PM (#28543583) Journal
    This concept stinks like crude oil. Probably because it's heavily supported by the oil industry.

    A 'miles driven' tax is exactly the kind of problem that allows people to completely externalize a lot of the public the cost of their fuel-inefficient vehicles (pollution, dependence on foreign oil, etc). We need to force people to pay those costs, in order to provide a disincentive to buying inefficient vehicles.

    If we're going to switch to a miles-driven tax instead of a gas tax, then let's put a surchage tax on the purchase of inefficient vehicles. Let's make it $100 per rated mpg under 50.

    Here's the math:

    Say a pickup truck gets 20 mpg (generous), and will be driven for only 100,000 miles over its life. That's 5,000 gallons of fuel -- at federal excise rate of 18.4 cents/gal, that's $920 in gas taxes over the life of the vehicle.

    Now look at a truck that gets 15 mpg. Fuel taxes over the life of the vehicle are $1380 (again, assuming only 100k miles driven).

    A miles-driven tax, where both trucks pay the same amount, completely removes a big incentive to purchasing a fuel-efficient vehicle. And given that the low mpg rating is typical of heavier vehicles that cause more road wear-and-tear, it's only fair that they pay higher taxes.
  • by kperrier (115199) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @12:02PM (#28543595)

    There is no way in hell that the government will remove any gas taxes, they will just add the per mile tax.

  • by bnenning (58349) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @01:14PM (#28545083)

    They told me that if I voted for McCain the government would end up tracking my every move. And they were right!

Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.

Working...