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Oregon Extends Push To Track, Tax Drivers Per Mile

timothy posted about a year ago | from the he-ain't-heavy-he's-a-hitchhiker-who-stalks-and-fines-me dept.

Privacy 658

schwit1 writes "Oregon is moving ahead with a controversial plan to tax motorists based on the number of miles they drive as opposed to the amount of fuel they consume, raising myriad concerns about cost and privacy. The problem for lawmakers is that the existing per-gallon gas tax has hit a point of diminishing returns, as Americans drive less and vehicles become more fuel efficient. Economists and civil libertarians are concerned about the Oregon pilot project in large part because some mileage meters can track and record residents' every vehicular move. Rick Geddes, a Cornell University professor, said the basic device is okay because it is simply attached to a vehicle's computer, which cannot track locations. However, Geddes said privacy concerns could resurface should governments expand the program and use SmartPhone or apps to track movements and reward motorists who avoid congested roads and drive during off-peak hours. Mark Perry, a University of Michigan scholar, says the GPS or 'black box' system is 'particularly untenable.'" Per-car tracking and taxation has been a long time coming in Oregon, and it's not the only state where such an idea's been floated.

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This is why I'm keeping my truck for forever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203161)

They can put in a tracking device when they pay for:

  - the device
  - the power it draws
  - the added gas the weight requires
  - and a per mile fee for access to my private life

Re:This is why I'm keeping my truck for forever (5, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | about a year ago | (#45203379)

The last one is the one I care about.

When did we stop counting the cost of government intrusion into our daily lives? When did people stop dismissing that sort of thing as flatly unacceptable? Is our need to try to force our neighbors to live the way we think in right so strong?

I shudder to think what this newfound love of intrusive government would turn into if the religious right retook the reigns of power. The same power given the government to turn everyone into good little progressives won't suddenly vanish if next the government wants to turn you into good little worshippers.

Re:This is why I'm keeping my truck for forever (5, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year ago | (#45203499)

Remember, there has hardly ever been a law by the govt (state or federal) that hasn't usually in the future, been happily expanded or applied to activities and situations that were not the original intent of said law.

I remember in my state, when they advertised that the "new" seatbelt laws would not be primary reason for pulling a motorist over, they could only ticket you for not wearing a seatbelt IF they pulled you over for something else, and noticed you didn't have one on.

I think most people see the recent "Click-it-or-Ticket" ads on tv where they definitely say they'll pull you over if they see you not wearing a seatbelt.

Whether you agree with this (I wear my seatbelt)...this is a quick example of saying one thing to worn a law in with the public, and then soon expanding and changing it to allow more intrusion into your life.

Hell, these days the RICO act is being used in new imaginative ways not pictured when it was passed...and that's an old well known law structure.

I can surely see this tracking that is supposedly anonymous now....to be expanded (maybe with help of the Bluetooth article yesterday) to be used for real time tracking, I mean, would that be useful during an Amber Alert???

Golly gee...remember that both child abuse and terrorism are the new keys to the Constitution, and surely we'd be willing to trade a little more privacy for the sake of the children being abducted by terrorists, wouldn't we?

:(

Re:This is why I'm keeping my truck for forever (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about a year ago | (#45203507)

When did we stop counting the cost of government intrusion into our daily lives?

Somewhere around the McCarthy era. Most definitely during Nixon's reign.

When did people stop dismissing that sort of thing as flatly unacceptable?

See above. Gotta watch out for the commies, dontcha know.

Is our need to try to force our neighbors to live the way we think in right so strong?

Yup. Witness the shunning and other measures of the Puritans and other interlopers to these lands. If you don't live the way they think you should live, you're outta here! Look at what happened to Roger Williams when he dared to suggest religious freedom and equality for all.

So long as people believe they won't be blown up on a plane or that the terrorist next door is stopped before they can commit their next act of violence, they will gladly, and willingly, give up any concept of limited government into their personal lives.

Re:This is why I'm keeping my truck for forever (4, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about a year ago | (#45203733)

Yeah, because the (D) would NEVER expand upon (R) ideas of bigger more intrusive government at all (or visa-versa) ..../sarcasm.

Re:This is why I'm keeping my truck for forever (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | about a year ago | (#45203405)

Or when they pass a law saying you have to put one in.

Its not a contract where you negotiate the terms by which you accept - if they pass the law then that's what you have to do. It sucks, and there's a lot of laws on the books that I don't like nor agree with, but to a large degree you just have to suck it up and accept it.

Re:This is why I'm keeping my truck for forever (1, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#45203517)

you just have to suck it up and accept it.

- USA revolution was fought over something smaller than this. 3% tax. It's laughable given current levels of taxation, imagine: fighting a revolutionary war to prevent taxation without representation, tyranny and generally taxes by a king just to re-invent a much more intrusive system, with the tax burden being orders of magnitude greater, oppression being orders of magnitude more evident, but the people have to accept it because it is a law based on some silly notion of 'democracy'?

Democracy is tyranny by majority and it's much WORSE than tyranny by a single dictator. At least with a dictator you can aim your anger at a particular person and you can even attempt and maybe succeed in cutting his head off. Cutting a head off this democratic hydra is quite a different challenge, it's not going to happen.

A thing strong enough to take down a government like this one this time around just may be the collectivism itself, as it eats itself with all these taxes, inflation, regulations that destroy individual freedoms and destroy the economy, so eventually the beast eats everything and has nothing left and then it dies.

Re:This is why I'm keeping my truck for forever (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#45203567)

Or when they pass a law saying you have to put one in.

You don't have to put one in. If you don't like tracking, you can pay off the odometer reading. But if you put in the device, you will not be charged for driving on private roads.

This all seems really stupid to me. They should just raise the gas tax. Heavier vehicles use more gas, but they also cause more damage to the roads.

Re:This is why I'm keeping my truck for forever (5, Insightful)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about a year ago | (#45203617)

Or they could just do like almost every other state in the Union and just PASS A SALES TAX. This is an example of the kind of shit that happens when you don't have an equitable and sane tax system and put too many eggs in one basket. By relying way too much on the gas tax instead of a more balanced approach, Oregon fucked itself. They encouraged people to use less gas alright (a good thing), but now they have to come up with crazy shit like this law to replace it.

Either cut costs or pass a small sales tax, assholes. Slapping some weird device on everyone's car is NOT the sane approach to the problem.

Re:This is why I'm keeping my truck for forever (0)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#45203451)

Small correction: They can *try* to put in a tracking device on my car (I live in Oregon), but it will be re-located to my riding lawn-mower in fairly short order.

Maybe they can order bicyclists in Portland to put tracking devices on their bikes first - you know, as a test. After all, bicycles share the road around here, and are (according to every local official) equal in legal stature to an automobile.

I'm willing to wager that if they tried that tack, the smug little hippies who suggested this little tracking device would quickly want it shut down.

Re:This is why I'm keeping my truck for forever (1, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#45203475)

They can put in a tracking device when they pay for:

  - the device
  - the power it draws
  - the added gas the weight requires
  - and a per mile fee for access to my private life

Or when ever they pass a law requiring it. No sense getting up on your hind legs and thumping your chest (while posting as AC),
because as soon as its required you know damn well you will install it.

Can someone please explain ... (5, Insightful)

Specter (11099) | about a year ago | (#45203177)

why we're trying to over-complicate this? Take the odometer reading at annual inspection and be done with it.

Will there be corner cases where someone gets screwed under this system? Sure.

Is it worth all the trouble, expense, and privacy violations of being 100% perfect when 80% is good enough? No. Not even a little.

Re:Can someone please explain ... (4, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about a year ago | (#45203213)

This.

They could check the odometer reading when you get your annual inspection.
Or when you get reregister your car. If the tax is reasonably small, people won't try to avoid it.

Re:Can someone please explain ... (2)

meerling (1487879) | about a year ago | (#45203337)

No annual inspections, nor inspections when renewing registration.
I suspect you're thinking of California.

Re:Can someone please explain ... (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about a year ago | (#45203399)

Also Texas. I assumed some kind of annual car inspection would be common.

Interesting that they don't have them.

I guess if you don't already have the infrastructure in place then adding a device would be the way to go.

Re:Can someone please explain ... (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#45203697)

Also Texas. I assumed some kind of annual car inspection would be common.

Interesting that they don't have them.

Mechanical malfunctions and bad lights are a factor in less than 1% of accidents, and safety inspections have been shown to be ineffective at reducing even that small amount. Many states have never done safety inspections, and many others have eliminated them. They are a hassle for drivers and completely ineffective at reducing accidents.

Re:Can someone please explain ... (0)

Ingenium13 (162116) | about a year ago | (#45203749)

Ohio doesn't have any type of annual inspection either.

Re:Can someone please explain ... (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | about a year ago | (#45203435)

I was wondering that when I read it but figured since I don't live there and the GP mentioned it then Oregon must have inspections.

In any event - that "solution" certainly won't work for all states. Here in SC we got rid of them ages ago (I'm thinking close to 20 years ago) and I know a lot of other states don't have them either.

Re:Can someone please explain ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203575)

S..so... add one? Or at least allow one instead of requiring me to add a phone-home system which, even if it lacks GPS data, can still, through triangulation or adding readers all over the place (like NYC) track my whereabouts.

Re:Can someone please explain ... (1)

paiute (550198) | about a year ago | (#45203623)

This.

They could check the odometer reading when you get your annual inspection. Or when you get reregister your car. If the tax is reasonably small, people won't try to avoid it.

In Oregon, the gas tax is 30 cents per gallon. If you drive 12,000 miles per year and get 25 miles to the gallon then you pay over that year about $150 in gas tax. Would people pay $100-200 for the annual inspection to cover the inspection and the road usage tax?

Re:Can someone please explain ... (1)

macbeth66 (204889) | about a year ago | (#45203271)

We are talking politicians here. What else do you expect? Unless, of course, they don't want to tax your out of state driving.

Although, I suspect that they are more interested in being able to track your movements. "You drove for 1 hour on a road with a speed limit of 55. Yet you went 70 miles. Here is your speeding ticket. Pay up."

Re:Can someone please explain ... (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | about a year ago | (#45203455)

Unless, of course, they don't want to tax your out of state driving.

Most states already manage to charge "Use Tax" on out of state purchases - I can totally see them requiring a differently named but equally valued tax for miles driven outside of the state.

Re:Can someone please explain ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203607)

That is my suspicion as well. As always, something is promised it will never be misused, but almost invariably it does. Remember the airport backscatter scanners that were supposed to delete the pictures of the nakky people, but didn't? Or red light cameras with reduced yellow lights?

If Oregon wanted a per mile tax, that is simple, have a state inspection, take down the odo reading. Next year, take the odo reading, calculate difference, and go from there. An active tracker is just asking for a laundry list of abuses:

1: More un-fightable speeding and red light tickets.
2: Active homing beacons to call tow trucks if one parks in the wrong spot briefly.
3: Active beacons for meter maids to tag vehicles.

This makes a great thing for enforcing fines and finding reasons to boot/tow vehicles. Definitely yet another tool that would be abused. Will this tool help anything? No. Will it be another avenue for abuse? Of course.

Fight it tooth and nail, guys.

Re:Can someone please explain ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203283)

What if you take a road trip? Not all your mileage is in Oregon...

Re:Can someone please explain ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203295)

The problem is that Americans are obsessed with rewarding 'good' behavior and punishing 'bad' behavior, no matter what the cost is.

Re:Can someone please explain ... (1)

xylo36 (1000020) | about a year ago | (#45203297)

Because why should I be taxed for driving on privately maintained roads?

Re:Can someone please explain ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203441)

Because you already do with the current gas tax.

Re:Can someone please explain ... (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#45203539)

Technically you could run untaxed gas on private property, though logistically it would only be worth it if you used a LOT of gas.

Re:Can someone please explain ... (1)

xylo36 (1000020) | about a year ago | (#45203677)

I was under the assumption that the gas tax also helped reduce negative externalities such as air and ground pollution.

Re:Can someone please explain ... (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about a year ago | (#45203445)

Well, for one thing, you already are? If you buy commercially sold fuel, you are paying a fuel tax already.

I think you can get farm diesel but it's a different color and the hassle is enough you wouldn't do it unless you had a serious amount of driving on private roads. The current gasoline tax only runs about $350 a year for a 25mpg car putting in 20,000 miles.

Re:Can someone please explain ... (1)

Specter (11099) | about a year ago | (#45203461)

Because it's not worth the time or expense to NOT tax you for driving on them when in the vast majority of cases private roads are going to be the exception rather than the rule. Ditto for out-of-state driving except in border counties in which case maybe you give them a % break as compared to someone on the interior.

I think meerling's comment that there currently is no state inspection in Oregon is a higher hurdle to jump; in that case, trade-off's aren't so clear.

I still think you come down on the side of simplicity as much as possible. Cover your 80% use cases at the least cost and complexity and simply accept that you'll have some sort of dead weight loss whatever you choose. I think it's vastly preferable to granting your state government an official license to track all your movements.

Re:Can someone please explain ... (5, Insightful)

jmauro (32523) | about a year ago | (#45203409)

Even easier. Raise the gas tax. It'll increase revenue, easier to administer, and encourage even less use of gas.

Until we reach a world where we use zero gas to transport, this makes the most sense, since gas taxes are both a rough proxy for miles traveled and encourages less fuel use.

Re:Can someone please explain ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203563)

Mod this up. It's the simple, best way.

Re:Can someone please explain ... (1)

qzjul (944600) | about a year ago | (#45203615)

This; why should we charge based on distance travelled, when some are driving super-lightweight gas-efficient cars that cause minimal damage to infrastructure, and some are driving gas guzzling dually trucks that cause significantly more damage to infrastructure, or even transport trucks. Raising the gas tax encourages using less fuel, which also encourages less driving. You could also increase registration fees based on the weight of a vehicle.

Re:Can someone please explain ... (2)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about a year ago | (#45203703)

Its sure is gonna be hard to change to another tax revenue stream. If they tax per mile instead of per gallon, the price of gas drops thereby increasing the burning of gas and also the sales of less efficient autos.

OTOH, taxing by mile should also include a vehicle weight factor, as lighter vehicles cause less damage to roads. This factor was already somewhat inherent in the gas tax as heavier vehicles tend to use more fuel.

In the end, treating out of state drivers fairly will be the biggest challenge. The answer.....tolls every-freaking-where.

Re:Can someone please explain ... (2)

r_jensen11 (598210) | about a year ago | (#45203425)

why we're trying to over-complicate this? Take the odometer reading at annual inspection and be done with it.

Because this fails under two scenarios:
Scenario (1) - Out-of-state drivers/cars registered out of state (e.g. university students who have Mom & Dad pay for registration & property taxes) driving into/through the state
Scenario (2) - Oregon residents who have the audacity to drive their vehicles out of the state

While it's not perfect, taxing gas has been a very practical approach to dealing with the tax issue. Now that we're looking at electric vehicles in addition to liquid fuel, perhaps a similar approach would be to meter charging stations and tax on that?

Re:Can someone please explain ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203453)

FAIL

What if I live in Oregon, but travel the US for 9 months, with only a few hundred driving in Oregon. Or what if I live near the state line and drive most miles out of state?

No, fuel tax is the best way to do this, especially because there is a correlation between MPG and vehicle weight, and vehicle weight has a strong influence on road deterioration.

captcha:commute

Re:Can someone please explain ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203463)

What if I take my car and drive across the country and back?

Re:Can someone please explain ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203471)

What inspection?

Re:Can someone please explain ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203523)

why we're trying to over-complicate this?

Okay lets get to the root of this, who the hell thinks this is a good idea? Specifically who is spending money to promote this? Because seriously, nothing like this gets proposed without a corporate or government backer. Suggestions.

1, NSA
2. Manufacturers of tracking devices.
3. Auto Companies that sell gas guzzlers.
4. Oil companies
5. Trucking industry.

Seriously taxing on a per mile basis for roads has the incentives all wrong, especially for a state like Oregon with no oil production. Money spent on diesel and gasoline is a drain on the economy (money goes out). Higher mileage cars tend to be lighter and thus do less road damage, a lot less. It's regressive, lower income people drive cheaper high mileage cars, and thus pay lower fuel taxes to boot. So a mileage tax transfers the cost of damaged roads from wealthy people with gas guzzlers and the trucking industry to ordinary working stuffs.

BWJones circa 2005 FTW (3, Insightful)

stewsters (1406737) | about a year ago | (#45203181)

"I am hardly a tin foil hat wearing type but, the problem with this is that like every other means to create databases that track/document individuals or groups, they will eventually end up being mined for data that will likely violate your right to privacy. "

The top comment in that link to the California link is spot on. I just wish I could go back in time and tell him how deep the NSA rabbit hole goes.

http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=139566&cid=11681212 [slashdot.org]

Makes no sense (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203187)

Why not just put a tax on tires? Larger SUV tires pay more and bicycle tires pay the least...

As an Oregon resident, this seems silly and a complete waste of taxpayer $$$

Re:Makes no sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203257)

my suv uses bicycle tires... yayyyy

Re:Makes no sense (2, Insightful)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about a year ago | (#45203657)

Or they could pass a sales tax, like almost every other state in the U.S. Sure a lot of people would object, but would you rather have some weird device attached to your car instead?

why not just raise the gas tax instead? (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#45203191)

If the intent is that people should pay some amount per mile to cover the cost of road maintenance, just set the per-gallon gas tax equal to $desired_revenue_per_mile / average_mpg. This has the same overall effect as setting a direct per-mile tax, without the tracking nonsense.

This will be "unfair" compared to a mileage-tracking system in that people with more fuel-efficient cars will pay less than their share, and people with less fuel-efficient cars will pay more. But that seems reasonable from the perspective of pricing negative externalities: maybe people who use more gas per mile should be taxed more per mile.

Re:why not just raise the gas tax instead? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203329)

wow (597) you have gone past plaid to "senile"

Re:why not just raise the gas tax instead? (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about a year ago | (#45203365)

This will be "unfair" compared to a mileage-tracking system in that people with more fuel-efficient cars will pay less than their share, and people with less fuel-efficient cars will pay more. But that seems reasonable from the perspective of pricing negative externalities: maybe people who use more gas per mile should be taxed more per mile.

To a large extent, your use of fuel is proportional to your damage to roads. Lots of weight, acceleration and braking, will all put more wear on the road and at the same time use more fuel.

Re:why not just raise the gas tax instead? (4, Informative)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about a year ago | (#45203537)

To a large extent, your use of fuel is proportional to your damage to roads. Lots of weight, acceleration and braking, will all put more wear on the road and at the same time use more fuel.

Full electric or plug-in cars can use no gas, but they sure as heck don't have zero impact on the roads. You can start taxing electricity to raise money for transportation maintenance, but since electricity is used for so many other things that's hardly fair either.

It's a problem that has to be solved at some point as more and more fuel-efficient cars get on the road. You can propose other alternatives than the GPS tracking-type systems -- the most obvious being to just tax based on odometer readings, possibly with a factor related to vehicle weight -- but pretending that you can continue to just increase gas taxes and everything will work out isn't going to solve anything.

Re:why not just raise the gas tax instead? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203375)

Your solution is great ... for people, it however, sucks, for a government that ceases to control every single aspect of everyones lives.

I hope you pacifist hippies in Oregon stop fire bombing sawmills to save the trees, and turn your attentions to the real enemy ... an all intrusive over reaching government that seeks to destroy your rights.

(disclaimer ... that is not intended to suggest, you should fire bomb the government instead of the sawmills ... to be clear, don't firebomb anything or anyone)

Re:why not just raise the gas tax instead? (0)

Lendrick (314723) | about a year ago | (#45203443)

So, freedom-loving libertarian guy, you prefer the government tracking how many miles you drive and taxing you per mile? Because that sounds a hell of a lot more intrusive to me.

I'm guessing you're not actually a libertarian. You're a conservative who likes to use libertarian words.

Re:why not just raise the gas tax instead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203509)

I know I typo'd and entered 'ceases' instead of 'seeks' ... but other than that, how could you possibly interpret what I wrote, as support for taxes and government monitoring ?

Re:why not just raise the gas tax instead? (1)

kwalker (1383) | about a year ago | (#45203393)

Because then it's "unfair" to the SUV-driving soccer moms and limo-riding corporate execs out there. It "unfairly" rewards hybrid drivers and those who get significantly more MPG than average.

Re:raise the gas tax instead? - tax the rich (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203487)

That is a regressive tax. Poor people with old cars that get bad mileage pay more, rich people with new Prius pay less.
The goal is to tax the RICH people. With this plan, old cars may not get meters, new and expensive cars do.
They can also raise the cost per mile in downtown or expensive neighborhoods.
Who cares if there is a shooting while you are taking a short cut, the cops will know you were there and come to your door.

Re:why not just raise the gas tax instead? (1)

almitydave (2452422) | about a year ago | (#45203491)

Yes, this exactly. A few things:

1) If the concept of higher gas taxes to pay for infrastructure (really just meeting previous tax revenues) is such taboo that your politicians are unable to sell the need for infrastructure to the public, you need better politicians.

2) Newer cars are getting better mileage than old cars, but in general larger cars that in general cause more damage to roads are going to pay more toward these taxes than the smaller ones. Corollary: this also functions as a tax incentive to use more fuel-efficient vehicles, which is a good thing, right?

3) The other suggestions of odometer readings are spot on. Why the unnecessary waste of new technology and privacy concerns? I hate to be cynical, but is there some business in Oregon that makes these devices that happens to know a politician supporting the issue?

Re:why not just raise the gas tax instead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203737)

3) Bingo!

Re:why not just raise the gas tax instead? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203645)

Well no because the wear cause by vehicles is exponential vs weight. Most of the maintenance done on roads is needed because of trucks not small cars.

Mileage is tracked at vehicle inspection (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about a year ago | (#45203203)

Why not just use the values from that?

Vehicles go in once a year, tack it onto the registration afterwards.

Re:Mileage is tracked at vehicle inspection (1)

zlives (2009072) | about a year ago | (#45203351)

because than the government couldn't track where you travel every minute of the day. can't think of another reason unless someone's brother in law is the device manufacturer.

Re:Mileage is tracked at vehicle inspection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203579)

Because it's possible that people in state A tend to drive more in state B than people in state B drive in state A, so the errors won't cancel out. They could estimate the difference with surveys and have state A write a check to state B, but writing a check based on a random sample requires faith in statistics, which politicians don't have.

Another problem is that people shouldn't be billed for driving on private roads.

Meh. (3, Insightful)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45203219)

Use taxes are aboutas fair as you're going to get.

Someone gets screwed in ever model, but you're going to have to break a few eggs.

You could avoid the monitoring if you wanted. Whomever does car inspections up there already knows how many miles the average Oregonian drives - and knows how many miles you drove since your last registrations if you have a history. Bill you your projected taxes based on average or previous driving history, and then fix any overages/underages in your next registration. Set a floor or a cap on the whole tax or on underages/overages if you think it makes for a better tax plan. ....and you can do it all without installing a black box.

Re:Meh. (3, Informative)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45203237)

Also, I hate this crappy keyboard. :/

Thats a costly pain in the ass (2)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#45203229)

just tax electricity. Everyone benefits from roads, and you don't need to track were people are going.

OTOH, Oregon is the bastion of 'We want X! what we have to pay for it? that's an outrage!"

Re:Thats a costly pain in the ass (1)

zlives (2009072) | about a year ago | (#45203391)

personally i think we could start with transparent accounting of taxes that are already collected for road repair...

Re:Thats a costly pain in the ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203401)

OTOH: DC is the bastion of "We want X and you have to pay for it." FTFY

It's called an "odometer," you fascist assholes! (2)

mrchaotica (681592) | about a year ago | (#45203239)

Cars already have the equipment required, and the collection mechanism is already implemented:
  1. Step 1: Look up the vehicle's odometer reading from the yearly emissions inspection.
  2. Step 2: Subtract the odometer reading from the year before, multiply by the tax rate
  3. Step 3: Distribute the money to jurisdictions weighted by the amount of traffic in each jurisdiction (based on the yearly per-road-segment vehicle counts that the DOT already collects)
  4. Step 4: There is no step 4.

Re:It's called an "odometer," you fascist assholes (1)

Aighearach (97333) | about a year ago | (#45203355)

What you describe is the actual Oregon program, except for step 3 where we combine having traffic engineers that prioritize projects based on need with dividing some of it by County.

The crazy-making in the article falsely conflates the pilot program, which uses GPS because they can collect the data more easily, with the real policy issue that we're debating here, which will use the odometer readings.

Re:It's called an "odometer," you fascist assholes (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about a year ago | (#45203449)

the real policy issue that we're debating here, which will use the odometer readings.

We're debating the article, which barely mentions odometers (and even then, in the context of being connected to a GPS).

Re:It's called an "odometer," you fascist assholes (1)

Aighearach (97333) | about a year ago | (#45203739)

Wow, so you're ready to dive in with both feet into the false narrative! Even knowing it is false. Wow. Just wow.

Re:It's called an "odometer," you fascist assholes (1)

meerling (1487879) | about a year ago | (#45203433)

Again people, this is OREGON, not California, there are NO YEARLY INSPECTIONS. You don't even get inspected when you renew your registration.

Sure, you could spend a fortune to institute them, but the DMV can't keep up with their current workload as it is. Go there for one simple thing when the open, and wait there for hours. If you're lucky, you get out in time for lunch. (Ok, it's not always that bad, but it's still pretty much on target.)

Re:It's called an "odometer," you fascist assholes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203583)

And if I happened to live in, say, Portland OR but routinely did summer road trips of a few thousand miles (say, visiting Portland Maine), I'm paying mileage tax on thousands of miles that I didn't drive in Oregon.

That sucks.

Another way to get a few more dollars from (1)

themushroom (197365) | about a year ago | (#45203247)

the Oregonians who drive into Washington so they don't pay either WA sales tax or OR state taxes. :)

Re:Another way to get a few more dollars from (1)

Aighearach (97333) | about a year ago | (#45203467)

I'd support a system where we have both taxes, but the gas tax paid is refunded when you pay the mileage tax. I'd even let them refund any gas tax paid in WA.

It isn't that common. When I lived in Portland, which is only a few miles from the border, I never knew anybody who drove to Vancouver to buy gas. But certainly there are people who like to work in WA, and live in OR, because of the differences in income tax and sales tax. The good news is, the parts of WA with lots of jobs aren't near the border. So it isn't a large scale problem.

Inspection Time? (3, Informative)

mx+b (2078162) | about a year ago | (#45203259)

I am not from Oregon and maybe the laws differ, but in my state there is required yearly inspections where you get the little sticker on the windshield. I do not understand why one couldn't simply write down the mileage from the odometer once a year during your required state inspection, and that mileage is submitted to the state as the amount to tax you on? (You of course would get a copy of the form for your own records). Why have a device that tracks anything at all when there is already an odometer that does exactly what they want, track mileage! Use the existing services - mandatory state inspection - and bam, done. No tracking, no extra expenses.

Of course, I am not sure why you would want to tax mileage in the first place. I'd rather raise the gas taxes, and if people driving big 4-wheel-drive jeeps 1 hr each way to work can't afford it, then maybe it will finally prompt some rethinking about what cars we buy and how we do this whole jobs and commute thing. I would like to see more telecommuting, etc, for example. (But I would guess there would instead be an uprising from anti-tax people that want their big jeep rather than simply thinking basic economics, so probably wouldn't happen like this anyway).

Re:Inspection Time? (1)

JeffAtl (1737988) | about a year ago | (#45203531)

Because not all mileage would necessarily be within the state. Even though your idea is a bad one, I do agree that it is a far better solution than tracking people.

Re:Inspection Time? (1)

wiggles (30088) | about a year ago | (#45203565)

Not all states require annual inspections. My state, for example, only requires emissions inspections (not mechanical inspections) every two years and only in something like five counties of the state.

Re:Inspection Time? (2)

Aighearach (97333) | about a year ago | (#45203595)

What you describe is the real program we're considering; the "story" is a crazy fox news hit piece.

The GPS monitor is just for the pilot program, because it is easier to collect the data that way, and they want current data. It would be silly to wait a year to know how the pilot program is going.

The why is because of the shift to more efficient vehicles. Already hybrids are a major part of what is on the road here. There is bipartisan support for this idea, though it is early in the discussion, because on the right people in SUVs complain they're paying too much for road maint, and on the left people look to a future with few gas vehicles at all. So taxing based on mileage, where we're collecting the same amount of taxes as we do now with the gas tax, would tax based more closely to the wear you put on the roads, and would survive changes in technology.

It will actually be easier to fix this now than if we wait, because hybrid owners who vote with their pocket will be against the change; they're getting an unintended subsidy currently. If we wait until hybrids or electric is 50% of the cars, it will be harder to pass this at all; at least, until the roads start to crumble.

Partisan BS (5, Insightful)

Aighearach (97333) | about a year ago | (#45203275)

As an Oregonian I can say right away, this is a partisan biased post. It isn't the big bad Government floating this idea to take yer moneys. Rather, we have lots and lots of more efficient vehicles, and there is a strong cultural push to move away from Big Oil. So we want to have our tax structure set up so that it is ready for that; if everybody bought a hybrid today, next year almost no road repairs would get done, because we wouldn't have the tax revenue. And with the same number of miles driven, there would be the exact same need for revenue. So if we can succeed in tying those related things together, then we'll have a forwards-looking tax code.

As for the meters, that is just for a pilot program the real program will not use that, it will use odometer checks. If you've ever lived in Oregon, the idea that we'd require GPS trackers is really funny. Left, right, center, nobody would support that here. And we have well trained politicians because when they do something weird, we just put it on the ballot and over-rule them. And in the State Legislature, people who pushed bills that got overturned by the voters get primaried out... every single time! That is how you do it, people.

Note to editors: if the story is running on foxnews, you're pushing a biased partisan version that won't have the facts.

Re:Partisan BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203489)

As far as I can tell, the point already made in dozens of comments still stands. Pilot program or not, why is this necessary? Odometer checks are sufficient. The state already possesses sufficient information to simulate a robust scheme based on odometer checks and DOT segment usage information. If a pilot program is really necessary, why does it require this extra information?

How are the numbers read? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#45203289)

How are the numbers read from the device that plugs into the car computer?

If it has a simple numeric display that the inspection agent reads and records every year, that seems to have little potential for abuse or privacy violations. But if they electronically read the device, then who knows what information it's reporting. It could be tracking every time you exceed the highway speed limit. Or might be tracking every panic stop. Or it could be recording how agressively you drive. Or recording what time of day you drive. Or any number of things that may be a privacy invasion.

It's not clear how this basic device handles driving on out of state roads, and if it doesn't have any special handling for this, then it seems that it could easily be replaced with an annual odometer reading.

If nothing else, this device will spur innovation in car computer hacks or OBD passthrough ports that restrict the miles passed through to the device.

Simpler = Better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203293)

So the government wants us to buy more fuel efficient cars to the point they offer huge tax and business incentives to push that. Resulting in picking winners and losers and complicating the tax code further. Now that cars are getting more fuel efficient, they want to complicate taxes for driving to make sure those people that got the incentives for the fuel efficient cars still pay taxes for roads.

How about this...
NO tax/business incentives for fuel efficient cars.
Raise the gas tax as necessary to support road development.

Results:
You've simplified the tax system (and no longer are picking winners/losers).
But you're also encouraging people to drive less, use public transportation, and drive more fuel efficient cars.

Re:Simpler = Better (1)

JeffAtl (1737988) | about a year ago | (#45203559)

But your idea doesn't involve tracking people or increasing the bureaucracy.

"They just want your money" wins again. (3, Insightful)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#45203315)

I predicted this kind of crap 20 years ago when I saw what the Netherlands did with LPG cars -- they slapped a tax on it such that you had to drive 20km a year to break even.

This supports the theory they just want the money, and environmental concerns are a red herring.

Never forget that parsimonious theory: they just want your money so they can turn around and spend it on you to your, ummm, cheers?

"But...but how are they supposed to pay for roads?". Thus do you fall into their trap. It's about encouraging behaviors to ameliorate the looming end of the world, isn't it?

How's that theory holding up vs. this one?

Re:"They just want your money" wins again. (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#45203385)

Note: The veracity of "end of the world" is irrelevant, and coincidental, in the political realm. L2meme.

Re:"They just want your money" wins again. (1)

compro01 (777531) | about a year ago | (#45203423)

I predicted this kind of crap 20 years ago when I saw what the Netherlands did with LPG cars -- they slapped a tax on it such that you had to drive 20km a year to break even.

Is that a typo or are you suggesting that 20 kilometres per year is a major issue?

Positive ground vehicles (2)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about a year ago | (#45203317)

I wonder how these devices will work on vehicles with positive ground. It looks like it might be time to invest in older British cars.

Re:Positive ground vehicles (1)

JeanCroix (99825) | about a year ago | (#45203641)

Older American cars as well. 6V positive ground on my antique, and no computer. Heck, no electronics.

Re:Positive ground vehicles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203655)

I was wondering the same thing except my daily driver is a 1959 Volvo with a 6-volt system and a non-functioning odometer.

Simple Solution (2)

Bob9113 (14996) | about a year ago | (#45203341)

Geddes said privacy concerns could resurface should governments expand the program and use SmartPhone or apps to track movements and reward motorists who avoid congested roads and drive during off-peak hours.

Oregon (the body of people) has a reasonable case for wanting usage taxes to be based, at least in part, on mileage. The economic case makes sense, and there is a simple solution: Each time the data is collected, calculate the amount of money owed, show it to the driver for approval, and give the driver the option to retain the data for appeal. If the driver accepts the amount owed and declines the option for data retention, the data used to generate the amount owed is discarded -- never entered into the database.

If it is only about calculating the fees owed, then that is the only datapoint that needs to be retained once the driver has waived his right to contest the tax. Oregon gets to include mileage in its road use taxation model, and drivers retain the right to keep their travels free from government surveillance. Everybody wins except those with an ulterior motive.

The OBDII Port is for REPAIRS, NOT TRACKING (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203387)

The OBDII port is there for on-board diagnostics and to facilitate repairs. It is NOT there as a facility for the State to invade peoples' privacy.

I use the OBDII port with Torque Pro to monitor my engine and take data. The only time I am not using it is when my Nissan dealer is using it as a means to facilitate repairing my vehicle. The port in my vehicle is not available to the State, or my Insurance Company, or anyone else to use, and fuck them if they think I am going to allow it.

What is this ... (2)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#45203439)

... vehicle computer of which you speak?

1979 Landcruiser.

My car doesn't have a computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203473)

Heck, my car doesn't have any electronic parts at all. So am I exempt from the tax?

How quaint (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203483)

So, the official story is "carbon emissions are bad", so tax gas guzzlers through gas taxes.
People buy smaller often crappier cars and use less gas, gas revenues go down. Response is... "we need to find new ways to tax!".
Doesn't this prove to anyone even slightly honest in their ideas, that it's not about "clean-anything" but about tax revenue?

Between all the taxes we already pay, claiming they don't have enough money to lay down some pavement is absurd. Taxed Enough Already - that's what T.E.A. in tea party stands for.

cross-border gas sales? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203497)

Of course, I'm probably being naive in assuming that Oregon would replace their current gas taxes with this rather than just add the mileage tax to their existing gas taxes, but if they did, why wouldn't folks in neighboring states (near the border) just buy all their gas in Oregon and avoid paying taxes on it?

Oh, wait, Oregon is about the only place left that doesn't allow individuals to gas up their own cars. I suppose attendants could add an out-of-state gas tax for any sales to vehicles with out-of-state plates.

Or do that anyway even with continued gas taxes, charge a higher rate for out of state.

Re:cross-border gas sales? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203699)

Oh, wait, Oregon is about the only place left that doesn't allow individuals to gas up their own cars.

In fact, this could be why they hung on to that antiquated 'safety' regulation.

Safety. Really? I don't hear of cars in other states catching fire. But I do hear a lot from friends in Oregon. Capital of the 'drive away with the hose still in the car'. Because people just sit in the driver's seat and don't pay attention to what's going on outside.

Driving out of state (1)

rkfig (1016920) | about a year ago | (#45203545)

A good portion of my life I worked construction, specifically building stores in malls around the country. I would drive to one job, stay in a hotel until it was finished, then drive to the next. I would easily drive 50,000 miles a year, with the vast majority of it not being in the state that the car was registered in. So, under this system, if I was an Oregon resident, I would have to pay the mileage tax based on my total miles to Oregon to maintain their roads, which I hardly used, while also paying gas taxes in all of the other states that I am actually driving in to maintain their respective road systems. Gee, it's hard to see how I might think this idea is complete bull shit, even without thinking of the privacy aspect.

Oregon Voter Initiatives (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about a year ago | (#45203555)

Oregon Voter Initiatives are often controversial, but if they try and push this legislation through, It seems likely there will be a voter initiative to ban such tracking based taxation and it will pass easily. People don't like this sort of thing.

Watch this be a double-dip (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203569)

How much you wanna bet that they'll tax per mile, AND have a gas tax as well.

Track this, assholes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45203625)

There was a ten-year stretch of my life when all I owned was a motorcycle. I still own a motorcycle and can be perfectly happy riding that most everywhere. No "on-board computer" to attach anything to, and good fucking luck trying to stick a GPS on it (cover patch antenna with tinfoil grounded to the frame, or just short out the coax leading to the antenna with a pin through it, or carry a GPS jammer with me).

This is going to be great! (1)

thevirtualcat (1071504) | about a year ago | (#45203745)

I've always wanted a device that I could use to tell me how many miles my car has gone. Maybe even a way to track individual trips by resetting it. Perhaps, since it's tied to the car's computer system, it can also track fuel usage and display my average fuel economy since the last time I reset it.

Seriously, though. I propose that states that want to implement use tax just read the odometer. For people who do a lot of out-of-state driving, they can buy/lease/rent a widget that plugs into whatever (probably OBDII) and use that in lieu of the odometer reading.

This is crazy! But thanks anyway... (1)

SlovakWakko (1025878) | about a year ago | (#45203763)

Here in the EU we often envy the enormous economical advantage you residents of the U.S.A. get from having to pay only half (roughly) of what we pay for the same amount of gas. Better mobility means better economy. And now you're about to be taxed for MOVING around? Wow... a couple more things like this or the NSA+FISA fiasco, and the unemplyment figures here will look very different :)
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