By on September 24, 2007

drivingx-large.jpgAccording to USA Today, six states are about to test the same gas tax alternative currently contemplated for the UK. Early next year, the University of Iowa will equip some 2700 vehicles with computers and satellite equipment to clock their exact mileage. These Road User Charge Study volunteers will then get “sample” bills, simulating what they would have paid for that month’s motoring using a per mile charge. The reasoning: Americans’ cars are gaining fuel efficiency and using E85. In other words, the government’s looking at lower revenue and it’s NOT HAPPY. As hoiking-up gas taxes would be a kiss of death for any politician's career, “virtual tolls” would enable a suitable end-run– and raise serious questions about privacy. Still, the study’s “principal investigator” isn’t fazed. "It's not a question of if this is viable,” says Jon Kuhl. “It's a question of when it becomes politically and socially viable to make such a large-scale shift.”

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15 Comments on “US Tests Pay-As-You-Go Road Charging...”


  • avatar
    Mud

    I am waiting to see a toll booth set up at the end of my driveway.

  • avatar
    Hank

    I bet the toll-booth workers’ union in my state is readying for action right now.

  • avatar
    N85523

    I’ll bet the farmers who will ultimately be at the short end of the stick when the ethanol market goes south will love being charged for driving their farm trucks on their own property…

    There are lots of vehicles that spend much of their lives off of public roads. Airport vehicles and farm trucks come to mind. I wonder how these users would be charged should this system become the norm.

  • avatar
    melllvar

    “computers and satellite equipment to clock their exact mileage…raise serious questions about privacy”

    Isn’t there already a device installed in every car to measure mileage? What’s the problem with doing an odometer reading when you renew your registration and paying the extra tax at that point?

    I don’t buy that they need to track where your vehicle is at all times in order to measure your tax liability.

  • avatar
    glenn126

    I’ll simply find the loophole or move, if this becomes reality. I’m not going to pay taxes in this fashion – end of story.

    Reminds me of when I went to college in Arkansas, and they charged an annual tax on every stick of furniture we had in our rental house. Imbiciles.

    I had no choice then. Now I’m able to move and do as I please, if my state puts this into place – I’moutahere – and will move to a free state.

    Lord knows we get dinged for taxes every which way but loose, I’m not paying taxes on every mile I drive with a spy in the car.

    I bought a Prius on purpose – and the feds provided tax relief to help do so, to obviously cut down on oil imports – and so doesn’t that make the governments schitzoid and therefore insane? yes and yes.

  • avatar
    210delray

    Isn’t there already a device installed in every car to measure mileage? What’s the problem with doing an odometer reading when you renew your registration and paying the extra tax at that point?

    Do you think the state DMV is going to take your word for the odo mileage? No, you’ll have to take your car in for registration every year so the mileage can be checked — forget renewal via mail or web.

  • avatar
    melllvar

    210delray,

    I’d rather have them inspect my odo once a year than track me 24/7/356.

  • avatar
    dean

    The stupidity of this exercise is mind-boggling. A scheme that would involve the expensive retrofit of existing cars along with requiring additional equipment on all new cars is seen as the “simpler” path to pay-per-use charging than a gas tax? The collection infrastructure for which is already in place?

    Ridiculous.

  • avatar
    NoneMoreBlack

    Wow, almost as effective as a carbon tax, and only 700% more complex and expensive to implement.

  • avatar
    210delray

    Melllvar,

    I agree if that’s the only two choices we have (although in VA, we have annual safety inspections where the mileage is recorded — I don’t believe it’s sent to the state however).

    Still, the simplest solution is to raise fuel taxes as others have pointed out.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    I love this story. The real story is right in the text:

    “As hoiking-up gas taxes would be a kiss of death for any politician’s career, “virtual tolls” would enable a suitable end-run– and raise serious questions about privacy.”

    Yes, we will spend billions of dollars because its easier than insisting that our legislators grow a pair.

    Seriously?

  • avatar
    Kevin

    There are only 230 million cars out there, what’s the problem with installing an electronic module with a built-in cell phone into every one of them? Sounds like a plan to me.

    Of course, me so clumsy, no doubt my box will usually be “broken”.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    a gas tax is fair.
    heavy vehicles do more road damage, and heavy vehicles use more gas–sooo…heavy vehicles pay more in gas taxes. so simple!

  • avatar
    stuntnun

    there will never be enough vehicles using e-85 to put a dent in the tax revenue stream-there isn’t enough tillable land to do it if we tried. cars that get better mileage are lighter and there for do less damage to the roads= less road repair cost.they need to give more money to hydrogen power technology if they want to be able to keep taxing like they are.the reason for less tax revenue i would guess is people are buying less gasoline because it cost to much–they need to tax less and people will drive more–i will anyway.

  • avatar

    This should be relatively easy to kill as a form of extreme intrusion if the Supreme Court wasn’t run by jack-booted thugs at this point that have no respect for civil liberties. Tracking your citizenry like this is absurd, especially given that a gas tax is far more suitable. Then again, I don’t really expect any branch of government to support the people too much anymore, which is a sad state of affairs.


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