Pay As You Drive

The Telegraph has disclosed that the British government is pushing ahead with plans for a national road-pricing scheme, including testing “spy in the sky” technology.

Imagine:  having to think about some chilling, omniscient force in the sky tracking (and calculating costs of) your journey to pick up a six pack of Heineken from your market of choice.  Then, imagine having to consider such big-brother monitoring in an environment where you’re already paying some of the highest taxes on the planet, living amongst thousands of always-on CCTV cameras, and being sent letters of disapproval if you use bandwidth-hogging applications on your own PC.

It’s true:  British motorists already pay some of the highest taxes in the world and with government finances under severe pressure, the “pay-as-you-drive” scheme could provide a valuable source of extra revenue for the powers-that-be.

This all kicks off in 2010, and eight areas of the country have been selected for the secret pay-per-mile trial.

The Daily Telegraph has learnt that eight areas - Leeds, North Yorkshire, Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire, south west London, Suffolk and Essex – have been selected for the trials.

Initially, in January 2010, one hundred cars in each area will trial the new technology – in many cases entailing placing black boxes to allow their movements to be tracked - but members of the public will be invited to join the pilots in June 2010.

Motorists could be paying up to £1.30 ($2.42) a mile during peak hours on the busy roads — a form of punishment for using the very roads your taxes are going toward maintaining.

Even Tony Blair was keen on road pricing and believed that it was crucial to cut congestion by charging lower amounts for those driving outside rush hour. Environmentalists have also supported the scheme as those driving less pay lower taxes.

But for some motorists with impossibly long commutes, and little to no access to public transportation (country folk take note), there is little choice other than to accept the new system should it be adopted.

For a concise snapshot on some of the opposition to this proposal, check out some of the protest at the “Unofficial Blog of the UK Libertarian Party” site.

And I thought the recent campaign phone call recordings I’ve been receiving were a bit too intrusive…


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