Electronic monitoring of motorists is gaining legitimacy, as the federal government explores a pay-per-mile road tax and California mulls pay-per-mile insurance. But will the possibility of improved efficiency and use-based taxation convince drivers to accept on-board electronic spies? Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has already expressed his fondness for pay-per-mile road taxation, and the Chicago Sun Times reports that he’s willing to pay participants nearly a grand to help him test the idea.
A federally-funded University of Iowa study will pay drivers in major metropolitan areas a total of $895 to allow a GPS/cellular monitor in their vehicle for ten months. If the study concludes that there are few downsides to mileage surveillance, such monitors could become mandatory as part of a per-mile road tax. In theory, constant tracking of every car in America is more practical and politically palatable than simply raising the gas tax. Figure that out. Meanwhile, California is (as usual) the thin end of the wedge. Autoweek reports that the state insurance commission is considering allowing pay-per-mile insurance plans, based on similar technology. Which, according to California’s insurance commissioner, would result in fewer cars on the road. Which would mean even lower gas tax receipts, and a convenient excuse/opportunity to mandate pay-per-mile taxation. Doesn’t the future sound fun?