View Full Version : A 'Black Box' in every American's Car ???

10-27-2013, 03:53 PM
please follow along for a couple of minutes on this one ...

For years the primary method of funding US highways was the collection of federal and state 'road taxes' on every gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel, It's now becoming a well known fact that the amount of 'road taxes' being collected have fallen precipitously, thanks to cars getting better gas mileage, thanks to hybrid / electric vehicles etc. As such, the present level of 'road tax' collection is now beginning to fall short of the amount of money needed to maintain state and federal highways.

Some US states and cities had been experimenting with alternate methods of collecting 'road tax', in an effort to both restore previous dollar amounts of 'road taxes' collected, as well as to more 'fairly' deal with the fact that gasoline and diesel fuel are no longer the only 'fuel' sources for motor vehicles. This leads us to the following ... from the LA Times at

(snip)A black box in your car? Some see a source of tax revenue

The devices would track every mile you drive —possibly including your location — and the government would use the data to draw up a tax bill.

WASHINGTON — As America's road planners struggle to find the cash to mend a crumbling highway system, many are beginning to see a solution in a little black box that fits neatly by the dashboard of your car.

The devices, which track every mile a motorist drives and transmit that information to bureaucrats, are at the center of a controversial attempt in Washington and state planning offices to overhaul the outdated system for funding America's major roads.

The usually dull arena of highway planning has suddenly spawned intense debate and colorful alliances. Libertarians have joined environmental groups in lobbying to allow government to use the little boxes to keep track of the miles you drive, and possibly where you drive them — then use the information to draw up a tax bill."(snip)

My concern with this approach is that gov't 'black box' tracking of miles driven, as well as gov't tracking of WHERE the car was driven, is likely to have a 'chilling' effect on future strip club customers !!! I can envision angry wives' divorce lawyers already filing for court orders to release gov't collected info proving that their husbands' vehicles have frequently been parked at GPS co-ordinates corresponding to strip club parking lots !!!

10-28-2013, 07:48 AM
I own a yellow taxi in NYC (and still drive 3 days a week). Every NYC yellow cab is equipped with a "black box" that records each trip with integrated GPS and also driving information, such a mph and braking. However, this information isn't "transmitted" anywhere. In order to access the information (to dispute a speeding ticket or if the taxi is involved in an accident), you contact Verifone (the vendor), pay a fee, and they will provide you with a printout of all information for the time/date requested.

That's how it works for the 13,000 taxis in New York - I couldn't imagine information for EVERY vehicle in the US being transmitted to a receiving location and then processed. I just don't know how feasible that would be.

On another note, as cited in the LA Times article, the Reason Group, a self-proclaimed Libertarian think tank is in agreement with this Black Box boondoggle. I can tell you as a long time Libertarian, I am aghast at the idea of the Federal Gov't keeping track of it's citizens every move. The basic principle of Libertarians is LIMITED Federal government - this is the opposite and this "Reason Group" will not find any Libratarian support outside of their very small circle.

10-28-2013, 08:56 AM
Insurance companies want the same thing so they can collect the data and grade drivers. They claim it is to better customize their policies and help with accidents. I've yet to meet anyone who has had their insurance go down as a result of these devices. They track speed based on GPS and known speed limits, braking, stopping at stop signs, etc. Doesn't take much to qualify you as a bad or high risk driver.