UK Looking Seriously At GPS-Based Driver Taxation

from the driving-while-intaxicated dept

In the US, every so often, we hear about plans in places like Oregon and California to explore the idea of taxing drivers based on how far they travel using GPS systems enabled in every car. While these discussions generate a lot of publicity (much of it negative), they never seem to go anywhere. However, over in the UK, it sounds like they're a bit more serious about implementing a nationwide system for taxing drivers based on GPS data. Of course, aside from the very serious privacy implications of such a plan, previous complaints pointed out that, unlike a gas tax, a GPS tax does nothing to encourage drivers to use more fuel-efficient vehicles. However, the UK response seems to be that they're going to keep taxing petrol (as they like to call it) on top of this GPS tax. Also, part of the GPS tax would be that it was variable based on time and location. That is, the purpose is more about decreasing congestion, rather than worrying about road wear and tear or too much gas guzzling. So, drivers in the city during rush hour, will find themselves taxed at a much higher rate than the Sunday afternoon driver out in the country. Of course, in some sense, this is a regressive tax as poorer laborers are probably the least likely to have flexibility in setting their work schedules for the sake of avoiding the higher taxes. And, yes, of course, it is worth mentioning the privacy issues we glossed over earlier. Does anyone really think it's a good idea that the government have access to data showing where you are all of the time? The plan is still being discussed in the UK, but it certainly sounds a lot further along than the pie-in-the-sky plans heard about in the US. Of course, should this ever pass, is anyone taking bets on how fast a new industry will open up in the UK for hacking these GPS systems to provide false data?

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2005 @ 3:41pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    Sure, no one wants to get taxed more or have the government track their driving habits, but, in theory, this is definitely a good idea

    Most of the problems we're facing in the US, and, probably, in the UK, as well, with respect to traffic, congestion, etc, stem from the fact that there is really no incentive to live close to work. The fact that driving 30 miles to work puts that much additional strain on the infrastructure and delays everyone else is not adequately accounted for. Otherwise, people would not move that far from their office and we'd all be able to get to work a lot faster, there'd be a ton less traffic and we'd be able to use all the extra gas for mowing the steppes.

    In theory, there should be some sort of reasonable alotment for a daily commute, like 10 miles. If your commute is shorter, you should get a refund. If your commute is longer, you should get taxed. If you really want to live in a cheaper suburban house, the rest of us shouldn't have to subsidize it by wasting time sitting in traffic. Once people with 60 mile commutes begin to have to pay for going all that way, the way-out-in-the-suburbs house will stop seeming as cheap and its true cost will be shifted to the consumer. If you still want it, that's fine. But that way you're really paying for it yourself instead of everyone else chipping in by sitting in traffic with you.

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