Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Privacy Transportation United States

Oregon Extends Push To Track, Tax Drivers Per Mile 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.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Oregon Extends Push To Track, Tax Drivers Per Mile

Comments Filter:
  • Makes no sense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @01:40PM (#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 $$$

  • by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @01:59PM (#45203517) Homepage Journal

    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:Simple Solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by scamper_22 ( 1073470 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @02:26PM (#45203983)

    I'm really curious as to the mentality of people.

    Why is it that transit; for both roads as well as public transit always gets hit by people talking about pay per use. As if it is somehow natural and obvious that transit should be pay per use.

    Yet, healthcare... oh no... for that it should be universal (I'm Canadian) or even in the US it should be covered under insurance.

    Or education, it should be public and everyone gets it.

    The irony of it all is that the cost to support transit and roads is miniscule compared to the costs of healthcare and education.

    I'm in Ontario (Canada) and my province spends something like 40% of its budget on healthcare. Transit and roads gets a fraction of it all. Yet, when it comes time to budget. It's always... increase transit fares or put tolls on drivers...

    Transit/roads is something people use day in and day out every single day. If there is such a thing as a public resource, transit and roads are it.

    Yet, it seems these days everyone thinks it is 'logical' to that have it pay per use.

    I'm not against various kind of pricing on things. But I just find it curious how transit/roads get tossed in the bucket of pay per use, but education and healthcare, which consume so much money get thrown into the the government should pay for it bucket.

  • by gothzilla ( 676407 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @03:06PM (#45204671)
    I work in the trucking industry and we already pay gas taxes per mile per state. Your claim that we could just collect odometer readings is grossly over-simplified. Nobody is "trying" to over-complicate anything. It is by it's nature a very complicated concept that there are no simple or cheap solutions for.

    A state cannot collect gas taxes for miles driven in another state. If you live in Oregon on the Washington border and do most of your driving and buy most of your gas in Washington then you're already paying gas and road taxes. If Oregon taxed you by your odometer then you'd be taxed twice for the same thing from two different states. That would be like buying something from Amazon and paying sales tax from the state the warehouse is in and again for the state you're in.This leaves you with two solutions. Either trust the driver to log how many miles they drive in each state or you install expensive equipment into every single vehicle to automatically track those miles. If you go with a device you also have to figure out how to make it perfectly reliable, impervious to GPS/cell blocking, and it has to be very cheap. When we had big satellite domes on our trucks the drivers would throw a metal pail over it when they wanted to drive somewhere without it being logged. You've got to create a system that cannot be defeated by something as simple as wrapping the module in foil. Do you really think we're going to create a massive system where everyone's car is inspected and scrutinized to make sure it's working? How do you tell that someone hasn't just taken the foil off right before going to have their GPS monitor checked? The bottom line is that you can't.

    In the "old days" the driver would have to keep a log of his odometer reading each time he crossed a state line. That log came back to the office where someone would have to enter all those numbers into a spreadsheet and calculate the number of miles driven in each state. Those numbers then went to each respective state's revenue office where taxes were calculated, then we paid them. If he missed a number it was a pretty good chunk of work to figure out what it should have been based on his route and the previous and next odometer readings. Today it's a lot easier now that we've got GPS/Communications on all of our trucks. We pay a service to scrape the GPS data and auto-calculate the miles driven in each state. It's more accurate but it still isn't perfect but the states have agreed to just go with those numbers unless there's a big discrepancy somewhere.

    Do you have any idea what it costs to do this? Do you have any idea the hundreds of thousands of dollars this costs a company to do for a fleet of just a few hundred trucks? For us we get so many benefits from having GPS and comms on a truck that it's worth it. We can monitor the ECM data and pull data like fuel mileage so we can spot a truck that's getting 3mpg instead of 5 or 6. The fuel savings there alone are huge. We can also monitor events like a hard brake so we instantly know if a driver somewhere slammed his brakes on. If it weren't for all of these benefits there's no way we'd spend the money it costs to do it all automatically and we'd still be collecting paper logs from the drivers.

    This is one of those ideas that sounds great as an idea, but the reality is that it's impossible to actually implement.
  • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @03:10PM (#45204729) Journal

    There are many non-intrusive ways to tax. Unless you actually like totalitarianism (and many people do these days), you'd pick the least intrusive way to provide the taxes to pay for the roads (which, frankly, are mostly paid for by the federal government giving money to the states).

    Your knee-jerk totalitarian-friendly response actually scares me. Are you really so emotionally invested in giving the government ever more power to track us that you'd fight back against a less intrusive way to pay? Or did you just not think it through?

  • by FirstOne ( 193462 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @03:20PM (#45204867) Homepage

    so EVs get to freeload..

    In my state/city Grid electrical usage is taxed @19%.. Thus generating more revenue per dollar than gasoline or diesel. I.E 19% of $3.00 retail gas would yield $0.57 per gallon in state taxes

  • by mdielmann ( 514750 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @04:43PM (#45206061) Homepage Journal

    This would mostly cause the price of shipping by truck to increase, increasing the costs of consumer goods, which we will all pay for. Why risk damaging the economy by increaing consumer prices when you can just raise the gas tax? Remember, when I buy a good that has been shipped by truck, I am benefiting from the damage that truck caused to the highway. It's not actually fair to make truckers pay the majority of the cost.

    And who exactly do you think is paying for the damage to the highways if the trucks are taxed and prices increase? And how exactly would this hurt the economy more than taking it directly from the people?

    Taxes hurt the economy. Period. But so do shitty roads. Some reasonable method needs to be used to maintain them, and realistically, gas consumption is no longer a fair meterstick for how much you cause.

  • by Gription ( 1006467 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:14PM (#45207437)
    Why is it that people get this Pollyanna idea that a meaningful percentage of government spending goes to actually accomplishing meaningful expenditures such as, "building and maintaining roads and bridges"?

    The vast, vast, VAST majority of spending goes to administration. Most of that "administration" is used to administrate other administrators. The quantity of money that is used to accomplish ANYTHING by a government entity is nothing short of astounding.
    A simple roadwork example: A public works engineer explained to me the cost of converting a simple 90 degree intersection of two 2-lane roads, from Stop signs to a traffic light. The bill for the studies, planning, engineering, purchasing, and installation? ...
    [... wait for it ...]
    Total cost was $250,000 ...
    [... wait for it ...]
    in 1990 dollars.

    People complain that schools don't have enough money. Bull! School districts get plenty of money but the quantity of administration has grown to the point where the majority of money goes to support the disproportionately large percentage of "administrators" who of course, because they are in positions of power, command higher salaries. And at the same time they don't actually educate a single child.
    Think I'm exaggerating? Download the 2011-2012 report: []
    Column "F" is the dollars that are spent annually per student. The statewide calculation works out to $8382 (cell F962). Figure a small average class size of 20 children and that works out to $167640. For that kind of money don't you think you could hire a well paid teacher, get a great building, fill the classroom with new books each year, buy cheap desks every few years, have a part time assistant, pay the electric bill, and in the end make one hell of a profit? Then to add to it, instead of just doing one room of 20 kids, do 20 rooms of 20 kids. If you couldn't siphon off an astounding quantity of money while vastly improving the service you aren't trying.
    Well an astounding quantity of money IS being siphoned off by extraneous administration (which describes most of government). And it isn't providing anything to justify the burden to the taxpayer.

    In reality class sizes are more like 30+ children ($251460) so we are really being bilked. BTW - This isn't hard to see if you are looking. I haven't been studying this or working in the industry. I found and calculated ALL of these numbers while I was writing this post so it isn't hard to figure out and see that we are being used.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.