Skip to comments.New meaning for 'Road Tax'
Posted on 07/13/2009 5:00:40 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
Sara was late for work. The alarm clock didn't alarm, the kids were unusually slow getting ready for school, and nothing went right. She finally got to her car -- a brand new 2020 Chevy Adventure. She touched the finger-print secured start button. Nothing. It wouldn't start. She touched it again. Nothing. Furious, she banged the steering wheel with her fist. Then she noticed the paper hanging from the receipt printer on the dash.
"Your designated visa account rejected your Road Use Tax in the amount of $87.32 for the month of June, 2020. You must insert a valid account card to activate your automobile."
It's coming. With a $16 million grant from the federal government, the University of Iowa is developing a Global Positioning Satellite system that can measure the mileage, apply a variable tax rate that will increase during rush hours, and in high-traffic areas, calculate the total, charge a designated account card, and shut down your automobile if unpaid when due. Some 2700 automobiles in five states will be used in the test.
The system has been under development for more than a decade. The concept was proven in a similar, but smaller test in Oregon two years ago. The new tax system is being designed to replace the outdated by-the-gallon tax. Government mandated higher mileage requirements results in less tax revenue for all governments. Hybrid and all-electric cars contribute little or nothing to road tax revenues.
The new by-the-mile tax system will give government much more than a new tax collection mechanism; it will give government much greater control over everyone.
The new GM -- Government Motors -- can install this new system in all of its vehicles. All that's needed is an instruction from the car-czar. Auto makers that have not yet been taken over by the government can be required to install the system quite easily, by regulation or legislation. With such a system in every vehicle, the government can have virtual control over the population.
Purchase of a vehicle will give the government a database containing the name and residence location of every automobile owner. Since the system has the ability to record and track the geographic location of the vehicle at every moment of the day or night -- only for the purpose of applying the correct tax rate, of course -- government can know where your vehicle is at any moment.
Frightened yet? This is not hocus-pocus conspiracy-theory nonsense. The National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission has unanimously endorsed the scheme. A past president of the Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials says that several states have considered not waiting for the federal government, and implementing this system within their states. It is on the horizon, and currently targeted for implementation by 2020.
This system will give the government the power to know your every movement. Where does the Constitution authorize the government to exercise this power? How does the exercise of this power square with the Constitution's 4th Amendment guarantee of a right to privacy? Does anybody care?
Privacy concerns have kept the project out of the public spotlight, but not out of the lab. As the project matures, there will be the obligatory lip-service to "prohibiting" the government from using the capability to invade individual privacy. "Assurances" will be mouthed from both the administration and the Congress, that the rights of individuals will be protected. And the program will move forward.
Imagine this scenario: a police station in Podunk, New Jersey gets a silent alarm that a bank robbery is in progress at the corner of 4th Avenue and Main Street. The chief radios the regional Road Tax Monitoring Center, and immediately, every vehicle in the vicinity is disabled. The police arrive at the scene to find the robbers sitting in their vehicle banging on the steering wheel of an automobile that won't start. The press lauds this wonderful new technology.
Now imagine this scenario: A detective knocks on your door. "Your vehicle was parked on 2nd Avenue Saturday evening between 10:32 and 11:15 pm. Why?"
"It's none of your business," you protest.
You are informed that there was a crime committed in the neighborhood, and until you can explain why you were there, you are a suspect. You are in the position of having to prove your innocence rather than the state having to prove your guilt.
There is no end to the mischief that government can impose upon the people with this system. Government could control when and where people go simply by adjusting the tax rate. Government could force people to use public transportation, by adjusting the tax rate. Government could deactivate vehicles as a form of punishment for unpaid speeding or parking tickets. Government could easily dictate the type of vehicle you drive, simply by adjusting the tax rate on GM vehicles.
Those who think these scenarios are far-fetched have not been watching what the federal government has been doing, especially since the new Democratic Socialists have taken control of Washington. It's going to take more than Tea Parties to prevent this "change" that is being imposed. It's going to take a determined electorate to throw the bums out!
Henry Lamb is the author of "The Rise of Global Governance," Chairman of Sovereignty International , and founder of the Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO) and Freedom21, Inc..
Note -- The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, views, and/or philosophy of GOPUSA.
what about in the event of an emergency? does the road tax prevent ignition?
And thanks to the DMCA which both parties support it would be illegal to produce a device to get around such a system even for emergency purposes.
I would get the car started!
hot wire it?
This will develop a nice market for hackers.
My S-I-L just got his MS in EE and loves to play with systems like this.
If we can generate negative mileage, maybe the Baraqqis will pay us?
That "Eco:Drive" system that Fiat is pushing could wind up being part of it, too. More taxes for those who don't follow the "green" driving instructions and such.
I bet this gets overridden the first day,
Snot true. People are making these up.
This crap is being paid for by you and me, right now. Who authorized this grant?
What’s a GOP? They can print all the BS they like, unfortunately, voting seems to be a problem. Are these the same asshats that said a 20% vote against the sotomayor is a victory? Spare me.
Ever seen an OnStar commercial? Do you know that the voice is driven by agent technology created by General Magic years ago, and created to be an active agent in the operation of both sides of any system it's a part of rather than simply a data passing or voice perfecting system? Do you realize that there's no reason why your GM vehicle computer should operate unless it is sent a new active agent as a key every so many miles, so many dollars, or so many carbon points? Do you even understand that the technology to do exactly what is described was test marketed by GM to be an improved vehicle lease and rental system that permitted complete control of the rental vehicle by the owner so that the vehicle could be limited to specific uses, routes, hours, etc., etc.?
Sure, it's all just made up. Now go back to your dream world and come up with some reason the government would bother to bail GM out if all they were getting was an auto company, dimwit.
just keep your head in the feed bag and enjoy the day
Sarcasm is lost if it must be explained.....
Sure, I’ll keep my feed bag while you keep your stool, you steaming bag of fly food.
Not that that’s really stopped anyone. Not to mention the whole new frontier for identity theft!
I might add, that a posters sign on date and handle are searchable on FR. I realize you are new to this. Usually, when I stick my foot in my mouth, which happens often.....sigh, I apologize and carry on. Your premise was good, but you attacked an old time established FReeper. Just say sorry and continue......trust me, I’ve eaten a lot of crow in 10 years.....
It's for your own good.
“”May 19, 2009 Project Overview
National Evaluation of a Mileage-Based Road User Charge
This overview summarizes a major study to conduct a national evaluation of a new approach for charging vehicles that travel on public roadways. The new approach applies intelligent transportation system (ITS) smart-vehicle technology to the problem of assessing road user charges, allowing them to be fairer, more stable, and more flexible. Though very simple in concept, the new approach requires that a number of institutional and technological issues be resolved. It is to resolve both types of issues that we are undertaking this research.
Part I of this research, which was a three-year effort, was concluded in September 2002. A final report is available from the University of Iowa Public Policy Center. This research was funded through a special consortium comprised of the Federal Highway Administration and 15 state departments of transportation: California, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. As called for by Sections 1919 and 1934 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFTEALU) of 2005, Part II seeks to field-test the concepts developed, so that by the time the federal and state governments consider implementing it, the new approach will be fully tested and widely understood. Before implementation can be considered, it is vital that so different an approach be thoroughly tested because the stakes are high indeednationally the amount of revenue generated by road user charges is substantial, with the motor fuel tax alone generating upwards of $74 billion annually.
Basic Design from Part I
The basic operation of the mileage-based road user charge is as follows: A receiver installed on board study participants vehicles uses GPS signals (through triangulation) to determine the vehicle’s position. A simple on-board computer stores a file consisting of data polygons, using geographic information systems (GIS). These data polygons define the boundaries of states and, if applicable, sub-state regions such as communities or metropolitan areas. It is thus possible to assess mileage-based road user charges simultaneously for federal, state, and municipal levels of government. A data file is stored in the on-board computer containing the per-mile road user charge for this particular type of vehicle in each participating jurisdiction.
The on-board computer continuously applies the per-mile charge rate to the miles being traveled within a given polygon and thus jurisdiction. What is stored in the on-board computer is the total amount owed to each jurisdiction. Note that route and time information are not stored. The on-board computer compares the mileage derived from the GPS signal with that from the odometer. The odometer is the primary source of distance data because in modern vehicles, the manufacturer has made electronic odometers virtually tamper proof to protect warranty limitations.
On a pre-programmed schedule (e.g., on the 15th day of each month), the vehicle uses cellular technology to upload these stored data to a billing and dispersal center. The center operates much like a major credit card billing center. It bills the vehicle owner and apportions the revenue that is collected among the jurisdictions within which this vehicle has actually traveled. To elaborate a bit, when one purchases a vehicle, an account is established with the billing and dispersal center at the time the vehicle is registered. Payment options could include automatic credit card deduction, sending a billing statement, or payment from a debit account at the time that road user charge data are uploaded.
National Evaluation in Part II
Funded at $16.5 million, the purpose of this four-year evaluation study is to fully test and refine this new approach to assessing and collecting road user charges. The basic approach, just described, is a mileage-based road user charge system that will provide political jurisdictions with great flexibility. An important attribute of the mileage-based approach is that it can accommodate any form of vehicle propulsion system, including current technology gasoline- and diesel fuel-powered vehicles, new electric-hybrid power vehicles, and emerging vehicles that are powered with fuel-cells. At the state and federal levels, it is intended to eventually replace the motor fuel tax, not constitute an additional charge. Each jurisdictionfederal, state, and localcan enact per-mile rates that vary by vehicle attributes and that advance policy considerations.
Two important and interrelated issues need to be addressed in the evaluation study. The first is appropriateness of the technology. We need to be absolutely certain that the technology ultimately used is cost-effective, reliable, user friendly, flexible, and secure. In Part I of this research, we developed and refined the operating characteristics of the on-board computer and billing and dispersal center. In Part II, we are rigorously field-testing the operation of key components. Well-structured design-testing-feedback-redesign protocols will enable on-board systems and the billing and dispersal center to be fully refined and ready for implementation by the end of the four-year Part II effort.
The second and related issue is user acceptability. Assessing acceptability by road users involves more than acquainting a cross section of the road user population with the new approach and seeing how it reacts. Rather, the process must be iterativefeedback from a moderately large representative sample of users must be obtained to modify and revise the new approach. In this way, the evaluation study can converge on design and operational features that maximize its convenience and other user benefits while avoiding characteristics to which the traveling public would not respond favorably.
Central to the evaluation program is field-testing. It is vital that a sizable sample of motorists in different regions of the nation operate approximately a sizable number of vehicles equipped with the necessary on-board equipment for an extended period of time. We will include ample provisions for concerns or suggestions of participants to be reflected in second-year changes to make the on-board system work as well as possible by the end of the project. Over the course of the two-year field-testing, we will have enabled a diverse sample of approximately 2,700 participants to become highly familiar with the mileage-based road user charge. This will allow us to gain considerable insight into (1) the technological workability of the approach and (2) its acceptability to road users. At the conclusion of Part II, we expect to have developed a fully operational system to enable a mileage-based user charge system to be implemented. This system will be maximally acceptable to road users and capable of enabling a series of public policy objectives to be achieved, especially a stable flow of revenue.
Progress to Date
The national evaluation study began on October 1, 2005. Now, three and a half years into the project, considerable progress has been made. Specifically, we have:
Assembled a study team with key people hired by the University or retained under contractual arrangements.
Selected the national evaluation sites and established contact with the appropriate state DOTs and local councils of government.
Completed the design of all technological components, including several computerized data servers and wireless communication links connecting on-board computers with the servers.
Completed the design of the on-board computers, constructed prototypes and beta tested them in each of the evaluation sites, and manufactured 1,200 units. A total of 18 different vehicle classes have been established, and the class for the vehicle in which the on-board computer is installed is programmed. This makes it possible to charge different per-mile rates for various types of vehicles.
Designed a device through which participants enter the number of gallons of fuel purchased. This amount is sent to the on-board computer, which determines the jurisdiction in which the purchase occurred. A credit is then applied for the motor fuel tax paid to the particular jurisdiction.
Issued a request for proposals to numerous marketing and communications firms nationally to assist us in public information efforts as the first step in recruiting participants at six sites nationally. Based on the proposals we received, three firms have been selected. Materials for the selection and training of study participants have been finalized.
Designed a sampling strategy to select from the pool of volunteers the 200 participants in the first year of field-testing (250 in the second year) at each of the six sites, taking into account (1) demographics, (2) attitudinal profile, and (3) driving patterns.
Developed a database that defines the boundaries of the states and of local jurisdictions within them. This enables the on-board computer to properly record the travel within each jurisdiction and thus the amount due to it. As noted, it is possible to levy separate per-mile charges simultaneously at the federal, state, and municipal levels.
Designed a user charge data upload convention that virtually assures participant privacy. In fact, the only information that can be associated with a given road user is (1) the total amount of user charges due and (2) the total number of miles traveled since the last data upload. Using sophisticated asymmetric encryption, the amount of this total to be allocated to each jurisdiction (state or local) is then sent anonymously.
Developed a series of survey questionnaires for participant recruitment and periodic contacts with participants. These questionnaires have been reviewed and approved by the Universitys Institutional Review Board (IRB). The questionnaires will be administered every 6 weeks and will enable us to evaluate changing perceptions of the mileage charge by a diverse sample of participants.
Prepared four technical reports that document (1) the overall study design, (2) design of the technological components, (3) the process being followed to select and train participants, and
(4) policy choices when establishing per-mile rates for various types of passenger vehicles.
Tested the performance of on-board computers in ten different makes and models of passenger vehicles to assess its performance and to fine-tune installation procedures in the field testing phase.
The project is currently in year 1 of field testing. The marketing firms conducted an aggressive public information campaign using ads in newspapers, television and radio spots, and op eds. Recruitment efforts were assited by information regarding the stipend that participants receive over the course of their efforts in support of the study. Receipt of the monthly stipend is conditional upon completing the periodic survey questionnaires.
People wishing to be considered for participation in the study can apply in either of two ways: (1) through a study Website or (2) by calling a toll-free telephone number. A short prescreening questionnaire is administered first, asking a few fundamental eligibility questions, such as whether the person has a drivers license and a vehicle available. Those who pass through this screen are administered a more extensive questionnaire regarding (1) demographic characteristics, (2) attitudinal profile, and (3) general driving behavior.
Using a sample selection procedure, the study team will select the candidate participants who will then be notified as to their candidacy. Selection will be made on the basis of demographic characteristics. Training sessions will fully inform participants about (1) the study objectives, (2) what is asked of them during the field-testing process, and (3) their rights such as privacy protection.
On a designated date each month, the on-board computer will upload road user charges due, and a simulated bill will be sent to each participant. Initially, the billing statements will only reflect the total amount due, in a maximum privacy protection configuration. After a few months, the study team will send billing statements with much greater detail, fully documenting the basis for the user charges levied. The objective is to test whether participants would rather have their privacy almost totally protected or would prefer to have the basis for the charge very well documented.
Every 6 weeks, a survey questionnaire will be available to each participant. During the course of field-testing, the questionnaires will address a variety of topics related to acceptance of a mileage-based road user charge. The objective is to determine characteristics and views that tend to be associated with support for the mileage charge. The questionnaires also will serve as one of the several means for assessing the performance of the on-board equipment.
In summary, the National Evaluation of a Mileage-Based Road User Charge is the product of almost ten years of research. The design of on-board equipment and data transfer mechanisms has evolved over a considerable amount of time, and the sample design for participant selection likewise is quite refined. We look forward to the insights that will result from the two years of field-testing.
Jon G. Kuhl
Public Policy Center
Electrical and Computer Engineering
227 South Quad
University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52242