Company Betting On GPS-Based Driving Tax

from the we-know-where-you've-been-driving dept

Back in 2003, the state of Oregon considered a driving tax, which would involve putting GPS devices on cars so the government could see how far you drove, and then tax you for it. The idea being that those who drive more should pay a larger portion of taxes to support the roads they drive on. Of course, for many, many people, the idea of the government keeping tabs on where you drive and how far you go seems rather Big Brotherish — and those people note that you can accomplish pretty much the same thing (making heavy drivers pay more taxes) simply by taxing gasoline. Soon afterwards, the head of California’s DMV suggested that a similar taxing and tracking plan made sense. Over in the UK, they’ve looked at similar proposals as well. It certainly seems a bit early to bet on such a concept as the next big thing, but that apparently hasn’t stopped one company from building a device for exactly this purpose and showing it off at a recent conference. The company is smart in positioning it less as a device for tracking drivers and more as a way of “creating toll roads out of every road.” The article then goes on to rail against the very idea of toll roads — but perhaps that’s because they’re quite rare here in northern California. In other parts of the country, they’re a lot more common. Rather than worrying about the toll road aspect, it seems like the idea of government agencies having immediate access to information about where you drove at what time is a lot more troublesome.

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Comments on “Company Betting On GPS-Based Driving Tax”

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Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It would just be a GPS based odometer.

Then why not just use an odometer? If mileage is all the government really wants to track, why not just develop an ‘unhackable’ (or extremely difficult to hack) odometer that can be easily added to a car – why does it have to be a location based tracker *and* an odometer?

The other big issue is that such a device would only allow the government to collect road-use taxes on state residents – people that come to visit, or 18-wheelers that don’t do a lot of business in Oregon won’t have to pay road-use as their vehicles won’t be equipped with the necessary tracking equipment – if the tax was collected at the gas pump (as previously suggested) or via toll booths, then the government can collect a “fair” amount from everyone.

S.E.B. says:

Re: Re:

You really think it would just be a “GPS based odometer”?? Do you also believe the victims of this mandatory device would have control of it? If this passes, the device will be embedded somewhere unreachable within the car, it will not, by any means, have a control panel of any sort, and it definitely will not be tied in to the car’s original GPS system or screen.
Therefore, whether or not the government admits to it, they will be tracking everyone’s every move; logging it in some database to call upon for any circumstance they deem necessary.
This happens, they’ll know every move you make, no matter what they say theyre using the data for.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

can’t say for sure which, but i know that some states base your yearly registration fees on the weight of your vehicle. the rationale being that the heavier your car, the more wear and tear you put on the road. i’ve always liked that idea.

My state does that, but it’s not apportioned fairly. A bit of interesting information I came across in my engineering classes was that typically a fully loaded 18 wheeler does the same amount of damage to the roadway as about 4000 automobiles. I saw a sticker on one of those trucks the other day announcing that it paid about $4000/year in road use taxes. Based on that then, my fair share of taxes for my car should only be about $1/year. Instead, I’m charged about 100 times that amount.

Barrenwaste (profile) says:

Another tax on roads? Yup, I can see how that’s needed, since they make such efficient use of the money generated in the name of our roads already. A couple of weeks ago I drove from Michigan to Florida….at times it took me four hours to go four miles. Construction sites were everywhere, and to make matters so much better, though more than half the roads were tore up, only about a quarter of the construction sites had any activity when I blew by at such amazing speeds. On a bright sunny weekday about one out of four sites were being worked on. Hell, I have to go through a construction site on my way to work everyday, a site that is rarely actually being worked on, yet has been botteling traffic since just after the snow melted… that’s efficient! Personally, I think that they are leaving it unfinished and unworked on purpose. That way they can generate even more revenue by setting cops behind a nearby embankment to catch the frustrated motorists in the act of speeding through empty construction sites. They had three pulled over the other day when I came to work, all within about half a mile of the site……

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I think that they are leaving it unfinished and unworked on purpose. That way they can generate even more revenue by setting cops behind a nearby embankment to catch the frustrated motorists in the act of speeding through empty construction sites.

I think sometimes the contractors use roadway construction/repair contracts as filler. They only send the crews and equipment out to actually work on them when they don’t have anything better paying to do at that moment. Sort of a “spare time” kind of thing.

Party Time says:


They tax the gasoline and diesel fuel. They tax the electricity. They tax the tires. They tax the food. They tax the house. They tax just about everything. Remember – the government has NO money of its own. They have OUR money that they have collected as taxes and the money they print (which makes our money worth less – a hidden tax). Do you want more for your tax dollars? Throw a party! They did it in Boston a couple hundred years ago and it helped, for a while. Throw another one and stop some of the government arrogance, at least for a while, again. Remind the bums who REALLY owns the money.

nomo says:

Some thoughts

Tax is over 51 cents a gallon in California. Lincoln collected taxes from the working folks to pay for the civil war. The excuse was to pay for roads and transportation. Now we are taxed for everything. I think if a bunch of people try and find a way to track us, its a violation of our rights. How far will the American public be pushed to they decide its war?

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

One application that it could be used for is congestion payments. Bloomberg in NYC wants to charge cars more for driving in certain areas of NYC during rush hour. I could understand that attempt, but I don’t see GPS data to the government any time soon. If the government or anyone else collects that data, it can be introduced in a court of law.

A guy in Jersey was going through a divorce and his soon to be ex-wife used EZPass records to prove he was having an affair.

DRM Suxx says:

Unfairly taxes drivers only..

This GPS tax is not equitable. The GOVT should put GPS tracker chips in our skulls and that way those of us who walk or ride bikes can pay our fair share of the tax to maintain roads and sidewalks. It’s really the only fair way to do it. I am sure that we can trust them to not misuse the data about where we go and who we meet with. They are our government after all and they have our best interests at heart.

Barrenwaste (profile) says:

You guys are to late for the big brother aspect.

Um….you guys are a bit late on the draw for the privacy issue. Vehicles that have GPS in them are already trackable by the Gov. Not only that, but they don’t need GPS to follow you on the highways. Haven’t for years. Satellites, creditcards, roadside cameras, highway patrols, and air patrols. If they want to find you, they will. Go online and you can find airial photos showing your house with such resolution that they can tell if you’ve been mowing your lawn lately. They can also tell how much use any given road is given by tracking fuel sales, roadside assistance, and by using electronic eyes to count vehicles and log type. This GPS really won’t change anything in that regard.

Ed C. says:

A GPS odometer? Ya right. We really do live in an idiocracy! I’m sure we all wish that technophobes politicians would “get with it”, but if this is the stuff we are going to get when they do, it would be best if they clawed back under their rock.

And how about those that do a lot of driving out of state? You’d be paying your state to drive on some other state’s roads! Face it, the government keeps trying to create new taxes to cover up the fact that their inefficient spending has already used up their money for the next 2-3 years and they’re broke already. Besides, taxes to the government is like a junkie looking for a new fix. The old doesn’t get it anymore, so they’re alway on the look out for something new!

driveguy says:

txtag tolls

In the state of Tx, construction sites are only worked till they cause slowdowns and congestion. The workers are then pulled away to work on toll roads which are being jammed up and down all of our orifices because Rick Perry and all his buds feel the need to tax us a second time for roads we have already paid for, or don’t need. When the toll stuff is finished, workers are allowed to partially finish what was started and not finished. BTW, in order for the toll roads to be used when finished, the existing roadways must be made more inconvenient to use than before.(traffic lights,etc.) says:

This idea doesn't just suck, it swallows.

If they sincerely wanted to justify such a tax, they don’t need GPS to tell how far you’ve driven. All they need to do is check the odometer reading when you are forced to re-register the vehicle each year. Now that that hole is punched into their argument, it really is just big brother wanting to know your every move.

Angery Citizen says:

So let me get this straight. Not only will I have to pay for the outrageous prices on gas as it is and with them climbing even higher shelling out more money(part of which is tax money) AND having to pay the money for maintaining my vehicle and keeping it running but I would have to pay just because I DRIVE somewhere?!?!?! Anything like that comes along and I say to hell with driving. The government pulls enough crap as it is with all these bull**** taxes they already have out so lets give them more money? Ummm how about no! IF they are going to do this they should only put it on the Hummers and SUVs because they wear out the road AND pump pollution into the air. The Hybrids should not be taxed period because they don’t damage the road or the environment(compared to the SUV/Hummer anyways)

mantle says:

Odometer’s wouldn’t help. If the purpose is to tax you for driving x miles on the state roads, what happens, if i work in the neighboring state and most of my driving is done out of state? It doesn’t seem fair that I’m being taxed for banging some else’s asphalt?

We (Virginian’s) are still trying to figure out the new law which SEVERELY punishes it’s citizens, but gives slap on the wrist for similar offenses for drivers outside the state. So, legislators are looking for ways shore up their revenue , along the way they punish the innocent and poor instead of facing the big companies and special interest. The obvious reason for this is because the politicians are counting on the reliable fact that VOTERs don’t pay attention to any of this!!

boomhauer (profile) says:


yep this cant just be an odometer setup, as i would assume this will charge you like tollroads. and tollroads are at different rates. so it has to be able to determine which road you are on. the varying rates of course are a method to try to de-congest areas- charge more in congested areas to influence drivers to go another cheaper route.

big money maker + big brother watching your every move. brilliant!

edward says:

George Soros Versus Warren Buffet

Both of them are elites of elites in investment sector, yet they are quite different.

Wealth creation: Warren Buffet by direct long-term investing on other public companies through its holding company named Berkshire Hathaway, which main business lies in insurance; while George Soros by hedge fund management
Amount of assets: Warren Buffet > George Soros

Impacts to global economy: George Soros > Warren Buffet, especially during late 1990s’ Asia financial crisis

Influence to the society: George Soros > Warren Buffet, George Soros is much more philosophical than Warren Buffet, well-known books include The Alchemy of Finance, Soros on Soros: Staying Ahead of the Curve, George Soros on Globalization and The Age of Fallibility: Consequences of the War on Terror (the latest release). George Soros is more open on disclosing how he thinks and acts on investing. Warren Buffet has not published anything so far, except his annual letters to the shareholders of his holding

Please note Jim Rogers was George Soros’s partner during the early years of Quantum Fund (was originally named Double Eagle Fund, and then renamed Soros Fund), during the interview, published in Soros on Soros, Soros acknowledged on Jim Rogers’ contribution to Quantum Fund in those days such as on identifying the rising potential of defense sector, and he added one remark, all of investment decisions was made by him, while Jim Rogers conducted all of research and analysis. They respected with each other very much. Jim Rogers was much more cynical towards Wall Street mainstream than that of Soros.

Of course, Jim still is, as an vivid proof, you may check his 2 rounds interviews with our Frontier Visionary Interview at, they are al great minds, all very philosophical, ascending from technological and scientifical

Frontier Blog – search but not REsearch

EH says:

Toll roads

“…but perhaps that’s because they’re quite rare here in northern California. In other parts of the country, they’re a lot more common.”

Doesn’t mean we like them any more than anyone else does. Normal toll roads are horrible traffic-inducing polluting nightmares. I have a hard time thinking of a less efficient way of collecting revenue than a toll road.

Anonymous Coward says:

If you really wanna make a flat tax to pay for roads and whatnot, why not just tax you based on how many vehicles you own? Every vehicle you own is registered with the government in some fashion. How about just requiring an annual or bi-annual tax based on the number of vehicles registered in your name at the time? Then it won’t matter how much you’re using or not using the roads or what type of fuel you’re using. Everybody pays the same. Sure, some will see that as unfair, but you can find something “unfair” with any solution. I hate to say this, but I am actually in support of an additional gas tax right now, if it means better roads. I am sick and tired of having nothing but crappy roads to drive on that are being held together with nothing but duct tape and chewing gum.

SkippyTMut says:

Leave Me The F*^k Alone!

With all of the problems in the world right now why is the government still so hell bent on tracking the middle class around anyway? Here’s a better suggestion. Put a GPS tracker on cars owned and operated by government officials. Then make all the data public so we can start keeping an eye on those that we’ve elected to represent us! Maybe then we won’t have to find out a month later that a senator was trying to get head in the bathroom of an airport…We would have already seen him go to gay bath house the week before!

James says:

More Big Brother and the answer to it!!!!!

This is nothing more hten tracking people. There are easier and cheaper ways of doing this as already stated by many others. What we need to do now is attack back!!! When stuff like this comes out email them and tell everyone else you know and cares .02 to email and make tons of noise. Tell them how you feel and that your not useing there service etc. If you get enough people and or organizations fighting this they wont follow threw. It works for PETA. Use there tactics of bugging the corp. Remember the Revolution that fought for this once great country was won by 5-10%. You dont need a majority to win anything. There is going to be a new revolution soon im sure.

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