Could You Be Tracked And Taxed To Drive?

The San Francisco Bay Area's Metropolitan Transportation Commission wants to stick a GPS module on every resident's car, track the total miles driven — and then tax them accordingly. Mass transit and carpooling are fine ideas, but this doesn't seem like such a great thing.

According to CBS Bay Area, the commission wants to launch a study to explore the pros and cons of the tax, which could force drivers to pay as much as a dime per mile. It is purportedly an effort to reduce road congestion and promote mass transit. From an individual commuter's standpoint, driving long distances to work every day could mean paying more money to go make money.

But then there's glaring privacy issue associated with GPS tracking. The commission says it doesn't care about where people are going (only how far they've travelled). But what's to stop law enforcement or governments from seizing that data? Hopefully this is one bill that never goes into effect. [CBS Bay Area]

Image: Gordon Swanson/Shutterstock



    What if your job is low-paying but requires a lot of driving?

    I don't know how the system works over there, but IIRC my odometer gets checked every year as part of the car registration process. Why bother with such a costly and invasive system when you can just harvest the data that's already being recorded as a matter of course, and levy a tax based on that?

    Personally I don't think it's entirely a bad idea, although I would turn it around: if I drive my car *under* a certain amount I get a bonus of some sort. People who drive a lot are already paying more tax by way of fuel excise. But it would encourage me to drive even less if I got free or discounted bus tickets. Hell, just add "light driver" as a class of person who can get a concession card.

    There are two obvious answers: (1) to track people's movements (no doubt for all the best-intentioned reasons -_-) (2) someone in the business of this kind of tracking has bought/caught the ear of a politician.

      The only problem with this, is that if none of the roads you drive on that year have had any work done, then you can argue you are being taxed for other peoples driving.

    This can't pass! The people who need cars the most are the people living in rural areas (feeding us) and people working off hours when there is no other means of transportation (i.e. hospital staff).

    What about when you head out of the area? Do you still get taxed for the long distance driving out of state?

    How about you start taxing your politicians for breathing?
    This is getting ridiculous... You need to recover your precious oxygen from these wind bags with holes.

      Done, it's called the carbon tax. To implement it, all we need is a measuring device for breathing that phones home. Sounds feasible to me.

      What? You think breathing should be free? I bet you still think taxes pay for common infrastructure and services...

    ..... More socialist crap, do they actually think this is a good thing? While it may reduce congestion it's going to destroy peoples standard of living and is a massive invasion of privacy.... Sometimes I wonder if anyone in your country knows what's written on your constitution.

    Soon your welfare ponzi scheme will collapse and you will have two choices - let the socialists take over and become the USSA or kick em all out and return to being the the land of the free.

    If you think about it as a way of getting drivers to pay the real cost of their driving instead of being subsidised by every taxpayer like they are now, then it makes a lot of sense. Of course, as some of the comments above indicate, some people are more than happy to let others pay the cost, or have convinced themselves that their (relatively trivial) contribution in fees and taxes meets the (absolutely non-trivial) cost of their car trips, so they'll scream blue murder at any suggestion they start footing their own bill.

    The privacy stuff is a worry, although in theory it should be possible to design a secure system that only reports the aggregate to the authorities, but allows the driver to check the actual data to make sure it's accurate.

      Or the Governments can put their energy into Subsidising R&D for Green Automotive Technology.
      Like longer lasting, higher capacity batteries. Creating factories in their own countries for building 100% Electric automobiles. Create jobs, reduce unemployment, neutralize carbon emissions.
      Sounds like a better job for the Government then just grubbing more money off the people and sounding like they care.

      Cool apparently, baseless assertions. What makes you think drivers aren't paying their way already?

    We have the same thing here. However, it's called a petrol tax. Easier to implement too. Pay it whenever we go to fill up :p

    On the contrary, this is an absolutely brilliant idea. Pay per use is exactly how this should work.

      As long as there isn't a yearly rego payment, this would. Yeah.

        I have two motorbikes and a car.
        I can only possibly use one of them at a time, so paying by miles covered would be a lot fairer.
        But, as you say, ONLY if current rego fees AND Tollways are abolished.

    We already have a form taxes on roads in Australia - it's called Tolls. We just have the option to decide whether to use them but there is presently talk in Victoria of taxing all drivers a form of "toll" for all driving.

    NSW Roads are already bad enough as is.
    - We pay more than any other state for Registrations (including CTP)
    - We have tolls in every possible location
    - We pay all this money already as it is, and our roads are still in such bad shape (cause wear of tired + extra petrol consumption = More money we have to spend)
    - Petrol is high enough as it is.

    Surely by bringing out a tax to use your own vehicle is just over the limit.
    If I decide buy a car, I expect to use that car whenever I feel like as long as I hold a current drivers license and have a tank full of petrol. I don't want to have to worry If I can afford to increase my mileage. If the government wants to buy me a car and fill it up with petrol each week, then by all means let them tax me for using the car.

    You also have to think about how this will affect our pockets on consumer products. The 'Carbon' tax and 'Plastic' Tax already has people blaming these taxes for increasing the price of their products. If now people are being taxed for transportation of GnS, then how much more will the price of GnS rise?

    Don't even get me started on the privacy flaws. Police will just use this to target P platers again. Enough said.

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