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More on Oregon and GPS-tracked Gas Taxes 773

An anonymous reader writes "Wired has an update on Oregon's proposed replacement for their gas tax. Currently two candidates are in development, the first a GPS based system that tracks where a car goes to determine the number of miles driven. The other is a odometer-like device. Both would transmit the data to base stations periodically to determine the tax on a vehicle. There was a previous slashdot article."
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More on Oregon and GPS-tracked Gas Taxes

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  • by (54)T-Dub ( 642521 ) * <> on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:16PM (#6108633) Journal
    I don't get it.

    A more important reason is that GPS, which can monitor exactly where a car goes within the state and at what times, eventually could be used to implement different tax rates, according to Whitty.

    Followed by:

    Whitty said there will be no privacy issues because the machines are being designed to store only the number of miles traveled, not the exact locations visited.

    The whole thing sound ludicrous to me. I think people would complain more about getting another bill every month more than raising the gas tax a few cents. I understand that voters have turned down an increase in the tax over the past few years, but this seems like a very stupid way to get around it. Every gas station is going to have to have one of these devices installed. Then the pump will have to be changed so that it will give the user a different price depending on if he has a device or not.

    Seems like a high cost plan with lower voter approval to me.
  • This is Crap (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mgrassi99 ( 514152 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:16PM (#6108638)
    I'd never want to "be tracked" by anyone when I drive. When do they start sending me speeding tickets because I travelled too many miles in too short a time??
  • Environment (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cmjensen ( 30043 ) * <> on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:19PM (#6108685)
    Taxing miles driven? Heck no! Tax the gas used so that a person who drives a fuel efficient hybrid gets an INCENTIVE versus folks (like me) who drive gas guzzling Suburbans.
  • Out of state drivers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by krisp ( 59093 ) * on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:19PM (#6108694) Homepage
    So what happens when someone from northern california, who is not GPS equipped, routienly crosses the boarder to get gas for 20-30 cents cheaper? This seems like it could be a large problem if neighboring states don't implement a similar system as well.
  • They say the problem is that as vehicles become more fuel-efficient, the amount of money raised by taxing fuel goes down, rather than going up as population rises and more cars hit the road. So now they're going to lower the gas tax, meaning that the less fuel-efficient vehicles will get a break. The taxes will be based solely on mileage, not on the amount of fuel consumed. This effectively penalizes those with efficient cars, which also tend to be lighter cars, and rewards those with heavy gas guzzlers, who spend more gallons per mile and do more damage to the road in the process. Older, heavier, less-efficient vehicles also tend to leak more oil, further contributing to road damage.

    If you want to reduce emissions and raise tax income, you're simply going to have to raise gas taxes. Tracking drivers like this is not only a potential invasion of privacy (there are other situations in which an odometer reading is significant) but also not infallible, especially if you use the odometer method. It's not like someone isn't going to figure out how to cheat the damn odometer.

  • Weird (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tomakaan ( 673394 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:23PM (#6108749)
    Does anyone else find it kind of creepy that, as of late, there have been more new and expanded ideas on tracking vehicle travels? (UK Police Expand License Plate Camera Systems [])
  • Brilliant! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Struct ( 660658 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:24PM (#6108757)
    What an awesome way to build up unanimous support for a tax hike, eh? Man, a few more stories about this and everybody'll be begging to pay more gas tax. Reminds me of when I was a kid and my dad would tell me to stop crying unless I wanted something to really cry about.
  • by saikou ( 211301 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:25PM (#6108771) Homepage
    I can see the spam headlines already :)
    "This super-absorbant shielding will shield you from those harmful radiowaves, emitted by the super-GPS tracker in your new Oregonian car! Easy to install and saves you gas money! Easy to remove for the state inspection." :)
  • The article alludes that Oregon needs the gas guzzling vehicles for the tax revenue, and does not favor fuel efficiency. This only continues to hinder hybrid adoption. Ultimately, regardless of all obstacles, the proliferation of "Very Fuel Efficient" vehicles will magnify the need for a revenue model based on usage and not consumption.
  • by Kirby ( 19886 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:32PM (#6108884) Homepage
    If it's just a straight mileage tax, it's pretty dumb. It's just like the gas tax, but as the article points out, without the incentives to have a fuel efficient car.

    To make any sense at all, they'll have to acknowledge that Portland Transportation is VASTLY different than the rest of the state, particularly outside the Willamette Valley. Portland is a city, and has public transportation (not a great system, but it's at least there.) People have alternatives. And it's got a complex city road system.

    The rest of the state is mostly rural, with long highway stretches that aren't nearly as expensive to maintain. There aren't bus alternatives most places. Driving 10 miles a day in Baker City is incomparable to driving 10 miles a day in Portland, in terms of impact on the roads.

    They allude in the article of having the ability to tell where you are, so charge more for being part of the downtown rush hour vs. on a logging road that sees 10 cars per day. If they use it, they can possibly have the semblance of a fair system. If not, it's business as usual, where the rest of the state pays for things that mostly benefit Portland.

    (I grew up in Corvallis. There's real traffic during home OSU games, for the 4th of July fireworks, and when the Jehovah's Witness convention is in town. That's it. And that's the 4th largest city in the State.)

    Oregon's in such a financial free-fall right now, though, that anyone that can come through with a way to generate revenue, quickly, will get seriously listened to. So, I wouldn't be surprised to see a badly written new tax fly through without being scrutinzed.
  • by Ageless ( 10680 ) * on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:33PM (#6108905) Homepage
    My handheld GPS commonly gets 14 foot accuracy. It's accurate enough that if I have it on and tracking when I drive to work and when I drive back I can see on the screen that I was in a differnt lane of the road on the way back.

    That's just a handheld, inside my car. With an external antenna it could probably be even better.
  • by HydeMan ( 638036 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:42PM (#6109008)
    Cool! I can drive for free in Oregon and get cheaper gas. I sure won't have one of those dumb devices in my car, as I live in California. NOW JUST IN: The State of California makes it illegal to buy gas in Oregon, as too many Californias were crossing the border to avoid the excessive California gas tax. Suggested remedy: Install GPS in all vehicles and calculate miles driven. DOH!
  • Re:Love it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by anthony_dipierro ( 543308 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:42PM (#6109018) Journal
    The gas tax already encourages density. The property tax also does this.
  • by introverted ( 675306 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:50PM (#6109098)
    This sounds like the old bit about when you're given a hammer, suddenly everything looks like a nail.

    In this case, it sounds like somebody got a GPS for their birthday and now they're looking for problems to apply it to. Along comes the "gas tax by any other name" and well gee, using a GPS would be the perfect solution.

  • It seems to me that the GPS idea is part of Oregon government corruption. The idea cannot work for the reasons mentioned at the end of this article: Airplanes are safe, but laws often crash. [] Why are they proposing something that cannot work? Probably someone is using the idea to make money.

    For more about problems in the government of Oregon, see this: Complicated methods corrupt Oregon government. [] Basically, people who want to use government to make money have found the perfect way to prevent negative court judgements: The Judiciary in Oregon is not allowed enough money to do its job. Try calling the Oregon Court of Appeals in Oregon on any Friday and you will find that they are closed because they don't have enough money to stay open 5 days a week. With a limited Judiciary, those who want corruption can accomplish almost anything.

    The corruption uses other methods, some of which are mentioned in the articles.
  • by MerlynEmrys67 ( 583469 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:56PM (#6109176)
    This is the state that at one time had the highest gas prices in the country. They wouldn't admit to having high gas taxes (I don't know what they are, but gas sure is cheaper across the border in Washington) and assume that the cost to have someone pump your gas is 0.00.

    Yes it is illegal in Oregon for the average consumer to pump their own gas, because they might spill a little as opposed to the highly trained pumping engineer that you meet at your gas station every fillup (who loves spilling gas down the side of my car)

    Lets see, adding custom hardware into my car (500 dollars) adding a reading mechanism to each pump (500 dollars). Ammount that I pay in gas taxes every year (10K miles, 50/MPG, 200 gallons) probably about $70. So it will take about 10 years for them to even break even (or maybe worse, make me pay for the upfront costs through higher car/gas prices)

  • by Mysticalfruit ( 533341 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @05:06PM (#6109278) Homepage Journal
    Well, there's this old saying...

    If 10 people break the law, they goto jail...
    If a million people break the law, they change the law.

    On a side note, I agree about the low speed limits. They should up the speed limit to 70-75.
  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @05:30PM (#6109503) Homepage Journal
    Yeah...I see this being hacked rather quickly...

    Wonder what the new laws and penalties will be that will have to be put in place to 'prevent' this?

    That and as another poster mentioned, all the cars will have to have these devices installed, the pumps at the stations will have to be severely modified/replaced....and a whole new section of the government (a new dept?) will have to be formed and paid for to monitor this...and pursure those suspected of hacking their systems...

    And finally...sure enough, if there can be potential for abuse in this system...eventually there will be. Privacy could easily be infringed upon in the future as new government gets into power there years from now, that might not be as sensistive to privacy concerns as the ones in power now claim to be. Once everyone has these...not much of a step to require the units to be 'upgraded' to where they can track you better...

  • Re:Rube Goldberg (Score:2, Interesting)

    by anthony_dipierro ( 543308 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @05:34PM (#6109556) Journal

    But heavier vehicles, which get worse gas mileage, also damage the roads more, so there is still a very clear case for gas taxation.

    What if those heavier vehicles use hybrid or electric engines? Why should an owner of a Honda Civic Hybrid pay less than the owner of a regular Honda Civic? The Hybrid is heavier and battery disposal causes pollution.

    In a perfect world, I could see this as a reasonable solution. But in reality, it would cost far much to implement in a way which didn't allow abuse to be worth the minimal benefit. Maybe in 5, 10, or however many years, when a significant portion of traffic is using gasoline-free engines. Of course, then you could just tax based on vehicle registration.

  • by damiangerous ( 218679 ) <> on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @05:46PM (#6109667)
    I'd also like to know where you get that crazy RW=AW^4 formula.

    Well, let's see. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) [], New Zealand [], South Africa [] and the United Kingdom [], for starters.

    What does more damage, 167 Volvos or 1 Expedition? Hmm, going to have to say the Volvos...

    And according to experts around the world, you'd be wrong.

  • this is (Score:2, Interesting)

    by _avs_007 ( 459738 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @06:10PM (#6109890)
    precisely why the OR gooberment doubled the registration costs for ZLEV cars, because they don't "pay their fair share" or gas taxes...

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