A black box in your car? Some see a source of tax revenue (road repair)

========The devices would track every mile you drive —possibly including your location — and the government would use the data to draw up a tax bill.
========= Ok, this is just plain stupid.
Instead of increasing various state and federal gas taxes on a regional or local basis to keep pace with road-maintenance costs, lets add a whole new layer of fees and the bureaucracy and technology needed to collect it.
Why is making you pay more for gas a better way to fund road repair? Because a better way to measure AND TAX your impact on roads and highways is by the amount of energy (fuel) you consume because a good chunk of that energy is ultimately what causes road damage.
If you drive a small car (2800 lbs) with a small engine (1.8L) then your car's ability to cause wear and tear on roads and highways is not the same as someone with a 4,000 lb pickup truck with 6L engine. That's why measuring how far you drive is a bullshit way to measure and recover your share of road repair costs.
The amount of fuel you buy on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis is a far better way to approximate how much road damage you yourself cause, and hence setting the appropriate amount of tax on fuel is the logical, low-cost, less technology-centric, less personally-invasive way to fund road maintenance.
Full story:
http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-roads-black-boxes-20131027,0,6090226.story
Be selective in quoting the following (do not mindlessly full-quote it):
================ WASHINGTON — As America's road planners struggle to find the cash to mend a crumbling highway system, many are beginning to see a solution in a little black box that fits neatly by the dashboard of your car.
The devices, which track every mile a motorist drives and transmit that information to bureaucrats, are at the center of a controversial attempt in Washington and state planning offices to overhaul the outdated system for funding America's major roads.
The usually dull arena of highway planning has suddenly spawned intense debate and colorful alliances. Libertarians have joined environmental groups in lobbying to allow government to use the little boxes to keep track of the miles you drive, and possibly where you drive them — then use the information to draw up a tax bill.
The tea party is aghast. The American Civil Liberties Union is deeply concerned, too, raising a variety of privacy issues.
And while Congress can't agree on whether to proceed, several states are not waiting. They are exploring how, over the next decade, they can move to a system in which drivers pay per mile of road they roll over. Thousands of motorists have already taken the black boxes, some of which have GPS monitoring, for a test drive.
"This really is a must for our nation. It is not a matter of something we might choose to do," said Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Assn. of Governments, which is planning for the state to start tracking miles driven by every California motorist by 2025. "There is going to be a change in how we pay these taxes. The technology is there to do it."
The push comes as the country's Highway Trust Fund, financed with taxes Americans pay at the gas pump, is broke. Americans don't buy as much gas as they used to. Cars get many more miles to the gallon. The federal tax itself, 18.4 cents per gallon, hasn't gone up in 20 years. Politicians are loath to raise the tax even one penny when gas prices are high.
"The gas tax is just not sustainable," said Lee Munnich, a transportation policy expert at the University of Minnesota. His state recently put tracking devices on 500 cars to test out a pay-by-mile system. "This works out as the most logical alternative over the long term," he said.
Wonks call it a mileage-based user fee. It is no surprise that the idea appeals to urban liberals, as the taxes could be rigged to change driving patterns in ways that could help reduce congestion and greenhouse gases, for example. California planners are looking to the system as they devise strategies to meet the goals laid out in the state's ambitious global warming laws. But Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, has said he, too, sees it as the most viable long-term alternative. The free marketeers at the Reason Foundation are also fond of having drivers pay per mile.
"This is not just a tax going into a black hole," said Adrian Moore, vice president of policy at Reason. "People are paying more directly into what they are getting."
The movement is also bolstered by two former U.S. Transportation secretaries, who in a 2011 report urged Congress to move in the pay-per-mile direction.
The U.S. Senate approved a $90-million pilot project last year that would have involved about 10,000 cars. But the House leadership killed the proposal, acting on concerns of rural lawmakers representing constituents whose daily lives often involve logging lots of miles to get to work or into town.
Several states and cities are nonetheless moving ahead on their own. The most eager is Oregon, which is enlisting 5,000 drivers in the country's biggest experiment. Those drivers will soon pay the mileage fees instead of gas taxes to the state. Nevada has already completed a pilot. New York City is looking into one. Illinois is trying it on a limited basis with trucks. And the I-95 Coalition, which includes 17 state transportation departments along the Eastern Seaboard (including Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida), is studying how they could go about implementing the change.
The concept is not a universal hit.
In Nevada, where about 50 volunteers' cars were equipped with the devices not long ago, drivers were uneasy about the government being able to monitor their every move.
"Concerns about Big Brother and those sorts of things were a major problem," said Alauddin Khan, who directs strategic and performance management at the Nevada Department of Transportation. "It was not something people wanted."
As the trial got underway, the ACLU of Nevada warned on its website: "It would be fairly easy to turn these devices into full-fledged tracking devices.... There is no need to build an enormous, unwieldy technological infrastructure that will inevitably be expanded to keep records of individuals' everyday comings and goings."
Nevada is among several states now scrambling to find affordable technology that would allow the state to keep track of how many miles a car is being driven, but not exactly where and at what time. If you can do that, Khan said, the public gets more comfortable.
The hunt for that technology has led some state agencies to a small California startup called True Mileage. The firm was not originally in the business of helping states tax drivers. It was seeking to break into an emerging market in auto insurance, in which drivers would pay based on their mileage. But the devices it is testing appeal to highway planners because they don't use GPS and deliver a limited amount of information, uploaded periodically by modem.
"People will be more willing to do this if you do not track their speed and you do not track their location," said Ryan Morrison, chief executive of True Mileage. "There have been some big mistakes in some of these state pilot programs. There are a lot less expensive and less intrusive ways to do this."
In Oregon, planners are experimenting with giving drivers different choices. They can choose a device with or without GPS. Or they can choose not to have a device at all, opting instead to pay a flat fee based on the average number of miles driven by all state residents.
Other places are hoping to sell the concept to a wary public by having the devices do more, not less. In New York City, transportation officials are seeking to develop a taxing device that would also be equipped to pay parking meter fees, provide "pay-as-you-drive" insurance, and create a pool of real-time speed data from other drivers that motorists could use to avoid traffic.
"Motorists would be attracted to participate … because of the value of the benefits it offers to them," says a city planning document.
Some transportation planners, though, wonder if all the talk about paying by the mile is just a giant distraction. At the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in the San Francisco Bay Area, officials say Congress could very simply deal with the bankrupt Highway Trust Fund by raising gas taxes. An extra one-time or annual levy could be imposed on drivers of hybrids and others whose vehicles don't use much gas, so they pay their fair share.
"There is no need for radical surgery when all you need to do is take an aspirin," said Randy Rentschler, the commission's director of legislation and public affairs. "If we do this, hundreds of millions of drivers will be concerned about their privacy and a host of other things."
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MoPar Man wrote:

"Resistance is futile. Your life as it has been, is over. From this time forward, you will service us." ~Locutus
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While I basically agree with you, the flaw in the current system is that electric cars don't buy gas so they don't pay any gas tax. Now the simple solution would be to simply assess them a yearly tax in lieu of the gas tax but you know they'd be all up in arms over that and it would be a difficult tax to get passed. Right now it's not really an issue cuz there are so few electric cars but someday it will become an issue.
The sinister part of this has nothing to do with collecting gas tax per se. What you a seeing is that there is a whole surveillance/gps industry looking for ways to make money off "us". The infrastructure is pretty much in place, all they need is $40 worth of electronics added to every car to track you and "they", the surveillance/GPS industry wants to sell that "system" to "us", or rather ram it down our throats. They have bedfellows in gvt also wanting it because they would love to have a full record of every mile you drive and not so they can charge you a gas tax but to spy on you. It's all part of the militarizatoin-industrial complex - they invent stuff and then look for any use for that stuff they can come up with to sell it and the best sales are to gvt who will force YOU to buy it. So while the gvt won't be paying for it, you will, the gvt will be forcing you to buy it. It would be trivially simple to just raise the gas taxes and license plate taxes a suitable amount to pay for road repairs. yeah, some people would pay a little too much and others not enough but it would be plenty close enough, heck it's been good enough for a hundred years. But you see that pump price every time you fill up, with GPS tracking and billing you only see it once a month so you don't really notice it and if they want more money all they need to do is just add 0.05Cents to the rate, not enough people will notice to make them stop, just like they do now with your property tax rates. And then there is the spying benefit. Just about everything about gvt these days has an EVIL anti freedom motive and this is just one more.

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Ashton Crusher, while using improper usenet message-composition style by unnecessarily full-quoting, wrote:

As you say, there are so few of them that for the moment it is impractical to extract road-repair taxation from them. But unless battery technology improves, electric passenger cars may very well turn out to be a curiosity and never amount to much.
If some major breakthroughs in battery technology happen such that electric cars really do replace internal combustion - and do so without gov't subsidies or rebates - then you could simply add a tax on the battery system. If the lifespan of the battery is proportional to the amount of charge/discharge cycles then you have a way to tax electric cars based on the energy they apply to the road system - and a basis for collecting road-repair taxation.

The basis for small-scale trials right now are the electronics being made available by insurance companies and WILLINGLY used by drivers in their cars as part of various schemes to fine-tune insurance rates based on the amount you drive. I've read about some schemes that just keep track of the speeds you drive at (without knowing where you drive and therefore not knowing if you are breaking any speed limits - to a point). Just knowing what percentage of your driving is done at 30 vs 60 mph might be a valid way to determine your insurance risk.
In terms of collecting any sort of road-use tax based on electronic tracking and GPS is that people will start to use GPS-jammers - which are technically illegal but are used by some commercial drivers who want to disrupt any sort of tracking being done by fleet owners for various reasons.
There is an answer that can be implimented right now:
When you get your vehicle's emission's test, they simply look at the odometer reading and include that in the report that goes to the DMV. The DMV calculates what your "road-use" fee is based on the miles driven since your last emissions test and tacks that fee on to your license plate renewal. If you don't pay that fee, you don't get to renew the license plate. If the car is going to be sold, then the buyer/seller works out who pays the accumulated road-use fee at the time the vehicle changes hands.
Tell me why that wouldn't work - for any vehicle (gasoline or electric) ?
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Sounds like an excellent idea.
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On 10/27/2013 10:21 PM, MoPar Man wrote:

But if that happens regularly with only one or two vehicles in the fleet, the tampering is obvious, and the person doing it gets fired.
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Simply tax the charging. Problem is people would rig chargers to avoid the special metering. Or just tax the OD readings of electric cars. Problem solved.

Yep.
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"Ashton Crusher" wrote:

*beep* Here comes Ashton's car again. After he went by last week, he stopped at the Try-and-Save Mega Mall just up the highway. Quick, flash a "targeted" ad for WillyMart on the huge electronic billboard he's driving by. Ka-ching! Another nickle in our account!
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On Monday, October 28, 2013 2:32:17 AM UTC-5, Sanity Clause wrote:

Why mileage taxes are a bad idea (And why they will succeed anyway) www.motherboard.vice.com
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Ashton Crusher wrote:

I'll bet the black box taxation proposals will fall something along the lines of the red light/speeding cameras. The state won't run them directly. A contractor will get the business to provide mileage data to the state.
And then they'll get the contract written so they can sell other slices of the data to various businesses.
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Never waste an opertunity to gain more power over people. Furthermore, road funds are what is solvent in government even despite the countless diversons. End the diversions and there wouldn't be a problem.

Actually anything under about 4-5000 lbs is pretty much irrelevant for road wear. Heavy trucks, etc do practically all the vehicle based wear and tear. Everyone else subisidizes them. But yes, fuel taxes are a decent easy measure for user fees. The government doesn't like that they are anonymous.
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On Mon, 28 Oct 2013 06:18:21 +0000 (UTC), Brent

That's true for wear, esp on highways where truck traffic will be anywhere from 20 to 80 % of the traffic but there is still quite a bit of expense in the "non-wearing" parts of the system that needs to be assigned to the users.
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On 10/28/2013 1:18 AM, Brent wrote:

I ran the numbers under AASHTO PAS 1993, and one 72,000 pound garbage or dump truck is equal to 7,000 to 8,000 2-ton passenger vehicles (depends on how one distributes the axle loads) in pavement fatigue damage. For pretty much any roadway pavement design, one can ignore vehicles under 8 tons, as their effect disappears when rounding (generally pavements are rounded to the nearest half-inch, and base courses to the nearest inch).
Heavy vehicles also do significantly more damage from loads parallel to the pavement (driving/acceleration and braking forces), although powerful cars can do the same - I had to take odd lines through Turns 1 and 7 at Blackhawk Farms due to the damage done by cars.
Turn 1: <https://maps.google.com/?llB.490477,-89.117179&spn=0.000534,0.001321&t=k&z Turn 7: <https://maps.google.com/?llB.484565,-89.117424&spn=0.000534,0.001321&t=k&z
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Is it so much the power or excessive number of cycles on the exact same portion of pavement at high speeds? That is drivers at the track being more precise than drivers on the roads and the forces largely resulting from changing direction at speed.
Another factor to consider, is the track's pavement may not be designed for heavy trucks the way a road's pavement is, thus, not being over designed for light weight cars, the cars are capable of wearing it out after some defined cycle life.
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On 11/4/2013 12:07 PM, Brent wrote:

The cars of a similar class will end up close to the same line in the corners which does not help. But a near 3000 pound car with 600+ HP, high quality brakes, and sticky racing slicks will put enough force to deform asphaltic cement concrete if the mix design is not just right. Certainly more lateral stress than me on my 600 pound gross weight, 30 HP motorcycle.

Two different things entirely - most roads suffer more from fatigue cracking (from tensile stresses at the bottom of the pavement) than horizontal stresses, except for the braking zone right before an intersection.
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What I wasn't seeing was how the power level mattered, but I do now. The power being applied on the exit of the turn.

I had also thought of that, there aren't many turns on roads that can be taken like those at the track resulting in different loading as well. Still not sure a track would make the investment to hold up to semi truck use though.
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On 11/5/2013 1:01 PM, Brent wrote:

What a track needs is a mix where the aggregate particles provide enough interlocking to minimize deformation (since the asphalt binder is a viscous material). Or they could use Portland cement concrete, but for some reason that is not favored.
While a similar mix is beneficial for truck traffic to prevent rutting (Illinois had to redo hundreds of miles of overlays on Interstates back in the early 1980's a few years after they were put down due to excessive rutting), the thickness of the pavement along with it's elastic modulus is key in reducing fatigue. And you are correct, that fatigue of that type is not a concern on a race track.
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