New Black Boxes Could Usher in Road-Usage Tax

Driving

Cast into the limelight during Toyota's unintended-acceleration crisis, automotive black boxes — also called event data recorders — can help investigators piece together what happened before and during a car crash. Just about every new car has one.

A new initiative could allow the government to track how far you drive, however. And it uses a different sort of black box.

The L.A. Times reports that regulators are considering a second black box that explicitly tracks vehicle mileage — and perhaps where you drive — to fund road maintenance. Fuel taxes, which have remained the same for 20 years, fund the bulk of America's 57-year-old Highway Trust Fund to support highway maintenance and public transit. Problem is, the fund is slowly drying up as cars become more fuel efficient.

Enter what experts call mileage-based user fees, the L.A. Times reports. You pay for the mileage you drive, effectively turning every road into a toll road. Some states, like Oregon and Nevada, have already tested such a program. Oregon's 5,000 pilot-program drivers will pay mileage fees instead of fuel taxes. Privacy advocates warn of the potential for Big Brother oversight, but many drivers have already consented to tracking devices — some of which monitor a lot more than mileage — to lower car-insurance rates.

"The gas tax is just not sustainable," University of Minnesota transit expert Lee Munnich told the L.A. Times. "This works out as the most logical alternative over the long term."

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By Kelsey Mays | October 28, 2013 | Comments (15)

Comments 

Tony

Watch people stop driving. Now, a trip to the movie will be a debate, "do I need this expense or not? How much this movie really cost me?" This is psychological. One thing is to pay for gas, another thing is to pay tax. People will try to avoid it.

Tony

And yes, Prius is dead.

Rockaby

We pay an average of 23 cents per gallon of gas. Converting this to per mile tax, the tax would be about a penny per mile. You paid about a dime to a quarter in road taxes to go to the movies.

George

More FUD from the criminal government.
Stop looting the highway fund.
Second, set up an annuity so the dividend pays for all road maintenance.

Or time for a Wall Street Sales Tax. 1% on their TURNOVER, which is 4 Quadrillion.
So even taking into consideration a reduction of their activities, that generates 26 Trillion per year.
That will fund the restoration of the US infrastructure.

carma

Once they start taxing by the mile, they will also factor in the type of vehicle you drive, because heavier vehicles do more damage to the roads. They can also factor in the engine displacement to tax your impact on the environment too. I can envision legislation requiring black boxes that not only track and transmit mileage data, but also can disable the car by remote control if you don't pay your quarterly tax bill. @Tony: Your statement about this killing the Prius makes no sense. The tax will be just one component of the cost per mile, as Rockaby pointed out. Prius will still have a lower cost per mile than other cars and will sell like always.

carma

One more possibility: tracking when and where you drive and charging a higher tax rate if you drive in a city during rush hour. They'll call it a congestion surcharge.

Tony

I'll wrap my car in foil. There will be no data coming out of it

Tony

Well, 15K miles, .23 per gallon vs penny per mile is (for me) $115 annual vs $150 projected. But the issue is, now they going to track my movements. We're in prison, friends. If they will read mileage data during state inspection using wired connection - this is one thing. But tracking my movements - I'll use bicycle on the same road - go tax me

carma

Tony,
I think lots of folks will be looking for ways to "foil" this idea.

Tony

I mean, we're country which can spend 3 billion for upgrades to a tank pentagon says is useless in the battles we're fighting. They asked to allocate this amount for development of the new tank instead. Yet, government, fed by lobbyists from General Dynamics forcing the upgrades. This is just one example how money, which America still has in abundance, are being channeled wrongly. I bet ya, we have plenty of money for roads and people don't need to be taxed to death. When you buy a car, you already pay the sales tax, then, when you resale it, buyer paying sales tax again. When is it going to be enough?

Jose

Liberals are consumed with taxation. They're just like drug addicts except their drug is YOUR money.

Chris

Here's a news flash. They already can track your movements. It's called your cell phone.

Here is an easy alternative, raise the gas tax.

Tony

I can always turn off cell phone. Have you tried to wrap it in foil? It works well. Your cellphone becomes invisible.

Tree

Jose...it's not a liberal/conservative thing, they both want to spend your money...its just that they want to spend it in different ways. Conservatives want to cash up the Military & prop up the wealthy - the Liberals want to cash up social agenda's and the poor.

Either way, they're huffing your cash and mine like its cheap gas.

Steve

Why doesn't the USA just go Communist and be done with it? From health care to privacy, it seems like we are literally, going down that road more each day. Look at how AWESOME Russia is. Watch a youtube video of them and pretend it is in Kansas. Scary.....

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