RAND Corp: GPS Snitch Units in All Cars Could Enforce New Vehicle-Miles-Traveled Tax

Oh man, you drivers out there, you’re out on the road more and more every year* but the amount of gasoline and diesel ‘n stuff you buy isn’t keeping pace. So when people like you trade in their big old fuel-guzzling SUVs for Toyota Prius hybrids, the amount of gasoline they buy and the concomitant tax they pay to the Govmint goes down, let’s say by a half or two-thirds.

That’s good for Prius drivers but bad for the govmints. This chart from a big new report (free .pdf) out of California’s own RAND Corportation think tank ‘splains it all. See? You people are out there clogging up the roads and tearing up the streets 100% more than you were in 1980, but you’re only buying 50% more fuel:

You drivers are paying more in tax but not as much as if you would be paying if you were taxed by the mile. (That makes you a deadbeat in the eyes of the Powers That Be.)

And things are only going to get “worse” when Tesla Motors’ mainstream Model S hits the streets in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, “late 2012,” right? Electric car drivers pay no gas tax at all, so how are we going to make sure that they pay their fair share to repave our streets ‘n stuff**?

The RANDian eggheads looked at these issues and, out of 15 ideas, decided that these three would be the most practicable: 

What if the authorities put a GPS unit in your car or motorcycle? Not the regular kind of GPS receiver, the good kind, the ones that use differentials or whatever to pinpoint your whereabouts down to a couple yards on a 24-7 basis. 

You don’t like that? Well how about a cell phone in your car next to the engine that would call the government on a regular basis to rat out how miles you’ve driven the past week?

You don’t like that neither? Well how about a system that ID’s your car when you buy gas and then computes your Miles Driven by looking at your particular model’s EPA rating?

And let’s say this all gets implemented in five years. 

Or instead, our electeds could simply raise gas taxes a bit, but that’s not something that they like talking about doing.

Of course they could make this new VMT proposal “revenue neutral” by getting rid of or lowering per-gallon fuel taxes that you pay today. Once a system like this is in place, taxes would correlate more directly with miles driven – it’s up to you if you like that or not.

Welcome to The Future.

Speaking of 1980:

My uncle has a country place
That no one knows about.
He says it used to be a farm
Before the Motor Law.
And on Sundays I elude the Eyes,
And hop the Turbine Freight
To far outside the Wire
Where my white-haired uncle waits.

See how this libertarian, Canadian Power Rock Trio story ends after the jump.

*Not so much this past year or two, but you’ll be out there in force again soon enough.

**And maybe that’s the way it should be. I know all the arguments you’re thinking about - this is a political question, of course.

Jump to the ground
As the Turbo slows to cross the borderline.
Run like the wind
As excitement shivers up and down my spine.
Down in his barn
My uncle preserved for me an old machine
For fifty-odd years.
To keep it as new has been his dearest dream.

I strip away the old debris
That hides a shining car:
A brilliant red Barchetta
From a better vanished time.
We fire up the willing engine
Responding with a roar.
Tires spitting gravel,
I commit my weekly crime.

Wind
In my hair
Shifting and drifting
Mechanical music
Adrenaline surge…

Well-weathered leather,
Hot metal and oil,
The scented country air.
Sunlight on chrome,
The blur of the landscape,
Every nerve aware.

Suddenly ahead of me
Across the mountainside
A gleaming alloy air-car
Shoots towards me, two lanes wide.
I spin around with shrieking tires
To run the deadly race
Go screaming through the valley
As another joins the chase.

Drive like the wind
Straining the limits of machine and man.
Laughing out loud with fear and hope
I’ve got a desperate plan.
At the one-lane bridge
I leave the giants stranded at the riverside.
Race back to the farm
To dream with my uncle at the fireside.

And how about nice warm bowl of alphabet soup?

 
 
 

LIST OF ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS

AASHTO American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
ANPR Automated Number Plate Recognition
AVI Automated Vehicle Identification
BAR Bureau of Automotive Repair

BEES Board on Energy and Environmental Systems

BOE Board of Equalization

BTH Business, Housing, and Transportation

CAFE Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards

CBD Central Business District

CSS Citizen Services System

DMV Department of Motor Vehicles

DVS Driver and Vehicle Services

DOT Department of Transportation

DSRC Dedicated Short Range Communications

EIA Energy Information Agency

FTB Franchise Tax Board

GAO Government Accountability Office

GPS (Satellite-based) Global Positioning System

HPMS Highway Performance Monitoring System

HTF Federal Highway Trust Fund

HVUT Heavy Vehicle Use Tax

IFTA International Fuel Tax Agreement

IRP International Registration Plan

IRS Internal Revenue Service

MVA Motor Vehicle Administration

NCHRP National Highway Cooperative Research Program

NEMS National Energy Modeling System

NHTSA National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

OBD II On-Board Diagnostics port, second generation (post-1996)

OBU On-Board Unit

PAYD Pay-As-You-Drive

PSRC Puget Sound Regional Council

RFID Radio Frequency Identification

RPC Regional Processing Center

TIMA Truth in Mileage Act

TRB Transportation Research Board

VIN Vehicle Identification Number

VMT Vehicle Miles of Travel

VTR Vehicle Titles and Registration

VTrans Vermont Agency of Transportation

 

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One Response to “RAND Corp: GPS Snitch Units in All Cars Could Enforce New Vehicle-Miles-Traveled Tax”

  1. Philip says:

    simple enough to construct a Faraday cage out of tin foil & duct tape so that the GPS unit is blinded.