Several states are considering whether or not to charge drivers, not by the gallon, but by how many miles they have driven when they go and buy gas at the gas station. This method would entail applying a GPS tracking device to cars so that gas station pumps know how much to charge each individual driver. This new idea will also include charging drivers more for driving during peak hours of the day, places of where they have been and even by how heavy their vehicle weighs.
Currently the only countries to be using this method is Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, and Switzerland for trucks. The reason for this is because of the rising costs of transportation throughout the world and US. The current model to support transportation infrastructure is based on tax per gallon, this new method would allow states to be able to tax more from drivers who drive their personal cars more often than others. This would also include vehicles for business use. There are a couple of states that are looking into using this model to help support their state’s transportation rising costs; Texas, Minnesota, Florida, Wisconsin, Nevada and California.
The model of Pay-as-You-Go does kick up a lot of dust about rising taxes and privacy concerns. The money would go to help support transportation projects but how far will they go in taxing drivers? One of the main reasons for this new solution is because we have solved a problem, creating gas efficient vehicles, and since we now use less gasoline and have electric vehicles there is less revenue coming into the states for funding. Now the states need a new way to get money from drivers, so while Oil companies are still posting recording breaking profits every year, it’s not enough that we are reducing our dependability on fossil fuels, but we must be taxed for our efforts. Instead of looking for gas stations with the lowest price, it will always be a surprise at the pump for how much we will be paying because we won’t know until we have filled up our tank and the computer has calculated the cost right there. This will create a nightmare for drivers who don’t make enough money to support their daily commutes as it is right now.
The privacy concern about this new method of taxing is any company could pay to get its hands on how drivers are using their vehicles if every car and trunk will be required to have a tracking device on them. Governments, companies, and hackers will be able to know where you were at a certain time, how long your car was in use on a certain day, and if you drove in areas that have a higher concentration of traffic, such as commuters from the suburbs. Since no piece of technology is completely safe from hackers the question becomes how often will drivers need to update their cars because the case will be that someone will go to the pump and pay over 200 hundred dollars for a couple of miles they drove because a hacker changed the data in their vehicle’s tracking device. The other concern will be is who will create the technology, how will the fee for gas be created and is it fair, and the risks to using it.
All in all this new method of charging drivers for using their vehicles is a very positive one from a government’s perspective because it means more money for them. On the opposite end, drivers will not be very happy about their cars being tracked, their data being sold (do they get a piece of the pie?), and their personal and digital safety compromised, because in the end, when it comes down to personal data from consumers, someone somewhere is making money off of it.