Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Replace speeding tickets with a speed tax
  (+3, -12)(+3, -12)
(+3, -12)
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It’s time to put an end to speeding tickets and replace them with a speed tax. At the moment, police forces around the world zealously enforce speed limits. This alienates drivers and diverts law enforcement resources from catching real criminals. But increasingly, through the introduction of speed cameras in the UK for example, speeding drivers are being seen as a soft target for a source of revenue – it won’t be long before governments will depend on the speeding motorist as a way of raising taxes.

Let’s sweep all of this away and implement a tax based on the speed you travel. You choose your speed and therefore the amount you spend but the authorities can still get revenue. After all, vices like drinking and smoking are both taxed; we might as well accept that speeding is a vice and tax it.

Technologically what would a system to implement this be like? At the start of your journey you put your credit card or an equivalent into a reader in your car. As you drive your account is debited. The hand wavingly clever bit of GPS and 3G wireless technology on your dashboard works out where you are, calculates how fast you are going, determines how much you should pay from a central system and debits your account in real time. If your credit runs out, your car would have its speed limited.

The system could be set up in a hundred different ways to implement whatever agenda the authorities wanted. For example, a government committed to fair play (or one coming up for re-election) might say that if you stick to the speed limit you don’t pay and indeed if there is unacceptable congestion you get a refund. Another somewhat greener government would make it very expensive to travel at excessive speed especially if you have a gas-guzzling car. Another government committed to cutting road deaths might make travelling at great speed prohibitively expensive. Yet another might decide to implement a system of road charging as you entered a specific area (although not strictly a speed tax). A joined-up government might decide to do away with other forms of car tax such as that levied on fuel and raise the whole lot through speed tax.

The consequences of this would be most gratifying. Young boy racers would be forced to drive slowly since their disposable income would be insufficient to drive quickly as well as buy beer, hair gel and condoms. Business drivers would drive at incredible speed since they would be able to claim the costs back as an expense. Private motorists would limit their journeys or stick exactly to the speed limit to save money. People short of money would hang around road works in the hope of getting a congestion refund. A new industry would spring up (with accompanying glossy magazines) dedicated to the dash board devices and the latest and coolest feature packed one to buy. Academics, economists and politicians would have a joyous time building behavioural models to increase the government’s tax receipts whilst ensuring that the overall tax burden appears to reduce. Big software and hardware vendors, systems integrators and telecoms operators would get a much needed shot in the arm as they implemented the “killer app” within these extremely do-able yet expensive systems.

It’s so obviously a good idea – why hasn’t someone done it yet?

DenholmRicshaw, Mar 12 2002

[edski]'s link http://www.ananova....tory/sm_528605.html
[angel, Mar 14 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]


       Vote for a tax? No thanks. Too many variables in the system, and dead people rarely pay all their bills.
rbl, Mar 12 2002

       Speeding ticket = Higher insurance rate = Speeding tax.
phoenix, Mar 12 2002

       Not a bad suggestion, but I don't like the 'brave new world' implications. Why not just tax periodically based on a routine vehicle inspection? A vehicle's computer could be programmed to store speed range data over time, smoothed and readable by a diagnostic scope.   

       Possibly, my monthly 75 cold starts and 1100 miles at 43 avg. mph would cost me less than someone's monthly 1100 cold starts and 75 miles at 43 avg. mph?
reensure, Mar 12 2002

       Largest-fish-in-the-world-bone. I'm taxed when I buy a car (assuming I buy new), I'm taxed simply for owning a car (even if it just sits on my drive most of the time), I'm taxed on the (compulsory) insurance, I'm taxed on the (compulsory) annual roadworthiness test, I'm taxed at 900% on the fuel that I put in it, I *still* have to pay for parking it and crossing some bridges, now you want to tax me on the basis of speed?
angel, Mar 12 2002

       What a great idea - it could be variable by time of day as well so late at night when the threat of killing pedestrians is lower (as there are less of them around) you could speed for less; while during the school runs/ rush hour at either end of the day costs are at a premium due to increased potential for fatalities. This could also work location wise - cheaper in the countryside and more expensive in urban areas, generating much needed revenue for the inner cities.
PhilipMarlowe, Mar 12 2002

       Not a bad idea. They're talking about changing the road taxing system in the UK at the moment, but are more likely to do it based on distance travelled, rather than speed. This is fairer on those people who rarely use their car but are still taxed the same as heavy users (apart from fuel tax of course, which would be reduced under the proposed scheme).   

       The taxes that angel talks of are intended to start a much needed shift away from the current carcentric culture but they do nothing to address the problem of speeding. Every year in the UK, the equivalent of 80 747fuls of people die on the roads. It is estimated that here is a 5% decrease in accidents for every corresponding 1mph drop in average speeds, yet people are still selfishly speeding.   

       This idea may not be the best way to go about addressing the problem but it's a nod in the right direction - Croissant (as long as we can have speeding tickets *and* speed tax).
stupop, Mar 12 2002

       I read something like this in the paper recently, it was a plan or a tabloids scare tactic for 2010-2012 sort of time. It suggested replacing the current road tax system with in car gps systems that monitor when and where you drive charging more for congesteted routes and driving at rush hour.
Though the idea has its merits in being fairer I doubt the implementation would work. They would have to raise the set up costs some how, probably by keeping both systems in affect for the first year!
Still theres no guarantee the income would be spent on the terrible road state. Then theres the complications involved in fitting these systems to all cars old and new (incedently theres a old car rally held every year using cars that dont use have any electrical parts)
Set up costs would also have to include a new satelite system as the current one would not be able to handle all this traffic! Final problem I see is the whole 'big brother' idea, your everymove being tracked, how hard would it be for the wrong people to pick up your so they know the best time to rob your house!?!
edski, Mar 12 2002

       Excesive speed is the number one cause of road deaths in the UK, so legitimising it by taxing rather than fining is a bad idea.
mcscotland, Mar 12 2002

       So my monthly visit to the track with my street car would cost me how much? Also, this means if you are rich, you can speed. Bad idea.
dag, Mar 12 2002

       It's so obviously a bad idea - why hasn’t someone done it yet?
thumbwax, Mar 12 2002

       Strangely, no-one tries to legislate against parents letting children wander onto the roads. Prevention of vehicle-pedestrian collisions is always the driver's responsibility.
angel, Mar 13 2002

       [UB] That rule of thumb is, I think, specific to the UK, where the average speed of traffic is considerably less than 70mph.
stupop, Mar 13 2002

       I didn't watch my buddies die face down in the mud just so some a**hole can charge me for driving like a lunatic. It is my God given right.
brewmaster, Mar 13 2002

       On a more serious note, the UK government is planning on using GPS to enforce a new toll on entering central London. This can apparently identify individual cars as they enter the payment zone so it's only a matter of time before speeding motorists are regulated in the same way.
brewmaster, Mar 13 2002

       The central London congestion charging scheme; rather than using GPS, is using CCTV to pick up car registration numbers.
stupop, Mar 13 2002

       EU transport ministers vote this month (26 March) on whether to spend £275 million on the next phase of a European, civilian-controlled satellite called Galileo.   

       If the project goes ahead, Galileo, combined with GPS, would be accurate enough to levy road tolls within a decade.
brewmaster, Mar 13 2002

       They already do this in some places on the continent, using the existing toll gates. Because toll tickets have issue times it is obviously possible to calculate an average speed between toll gates.

FYI: Galileo is a satellite constellation (plus associated ground stations), not just one satellite, which is designed as a direct competitor to GPS. And though it technically could be accurate enough to levy road taxes, that is not its intended purpose. It would probably be an uneconomic method of recovering road tolls, given the infrastructure is there already in the shape of automatic toll gates, and use of Galileo is fee based.
mcscotland, Mar 13 2002

       With hindsight, I should have categorised this differently. Something along the lines of “Speed tax system as a way of stimulating bizarre motorist behaviour”. I’m not so interested in the technology since it’s not wanted, expensive and silly but I am interested (at the risk of going off subject) to think what the world would be like with such a thing.   

       As an example of a tax that already does this consider excise duty on alcoholic beverages in the UK. The equivalent tax in France is much lower resulting in huge price discrepancies across the Channel. The result is that many people from the UK spend the hour or so crossing from Dover to Calais, buying as much booze as possible and transporting it back home. This is particularly bizarre when you think that some beer is brewed in Kent near Dover but is cheaper to buy in France. The beer is brewed in the UK, transported across the Channel for a UK citizen to buy it and transport it back again. How bizarre is that?   

       So for a speed tax, the sort of thing I have in mind is as follows. The tax for travelling at or below 70mph is zero. This rises to 1 penny per mile between 70 and 80 mph, 10 pence per mile between 80 and 90 mph, £1 per mile above 90 mph and so on. The effect of this would be for most people to doggedly stick to the speed limit. Even more interesting is the possibility that the tax rates would vary by time of day. I can imagine that people would time their journeys home to take advantage. I can also imagine that as taxes increased at a particular hour there would be a mass braking to avoid tax. Especially intriguing are the bugs that there would inevitably be in a system of this size and complexity. If someone discovered that by driving at 57mph along the A417 towards Wantage just before West Ginge you automatically get a £100 credit imagine the fun that would ensue. Motorists would flock to Wantage and accountants could advise their clients to go to Wantage and take advantage of the tax breaks there.   

       Finally, citizens annoyed with a government might decide collectively to have a “keep to the speed limit day” to ensure that the government’s tax receipts are reduced. How long would it be before the government took notice (OK don’t bother to answer that)?
DenholmRicshaw, Mar 13 2002

       They'd probably lower the limit..
Relevant Link
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edski, Mar 13 2002

       I drove 25 mph in a 25 mph zone last night - felt like I was driving backwards, it was so slow.
thumbwax, Mar 13 2002

       Not a great idea, however if it was a law, it would be well worth the tax to drive as fast as I wanted. Time is money.
bspollard, Sep 16 2002

       If time is money, you'll want to avoid paying tax on taking less time.
calum, Sep 16 2002

       Wow! croissant.   

       // As the unemployed say: "Time is money and I've got a lot of time!"
pashute, Nov 04 2002

       //why hasn’t someone done it yet?//   

       They have. They're in taxis.
croissantz, Sep 02 2004


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