State says it’s not Big Brother by tracking your electric car

Sep 30, 2021, 5:02 PM
electric vehicle...
Go Ultra Low Nissan LEAF on charge on a London street. Ultra-low emission vehicles such as this can cost as little as 2p per mile to run and some electric cars and vans have a range of up to 700 miles. Photo credit: Getty Images

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah roads are maintained using taxes from gasoline sales. But if you drive an electric car, you don’t need to gas up, of course. A state program gives Electric Vehicle (EV) owners a device to plug into their car, which transmits data to an app loaded on the driver’s smartphone.

Similar to utilities, drivers pay for what they use.

Pay-per-mile does not mean Big Brother is watching your electric car

Utah’s Road Usage Charge program is a pay-per-mile charge instead of a tax paid per gallon on fuel.

If you drive a non-conventional vehicle, you pay 1.5 cents per mile or a flat fee this year of:

  • Electric = $120.00
  • Plug-in Hybrid = $52.00
  • Gas Hybrid = $20.00

For more information or to enroll in the program, visit roadusagecharge.utah.gov.

But what if you are an EV driver and don’t like the idea of being tracked by the government?

“We have taken every measure possible to make sure that data protection is secure,” Tiffany Pocock, program manager for the Utah Department of Transportation’s Road Usage Charge, told KSL TV’s Matt Gephardt .

She said the app is for the driver to track his or her own mileage and the device in the EV is not connected to any phone. Pocock said UDOT does not have access to GPS data and can only read how many miles are logged in order to calculate the tax owed.

Dave is fine with being tracked. Debbie is not.

KSL NewsRadio’s Debbie Dujanovic, of Dave & Dujanovic, said she is not OK with the state tracking her movements if she was driving an EV. (She said she is contemplating buying a used Nissan Leaf electric car.)

Co-host Dave Noriega pointed to her cellphone and said she is already being tracked.

Dave, on the other hand, has no problem with Big Brother monitoring his mileage.

“In fact, I support it,” he said. “So when I end up, you know, being kidnapped, you know exactly where I’ve been kidnapped.”

Debbie added that she typically drives about 12,000 miles per year. At 1.5 cents per mile, she would pay $180 user fee a year, and so she said she would choose the flat fee of $120.

But according to UDOT, the program is set up so that participants will not pay more per year than what they would have paid up front if they had chosen to pay the flat fee.

Dave said he too would also opt for the flat fee.

“It’s not that big of a deal if they track me . . . As long as you have a phone, you’re being tracked. Who cares if it’s Google or the government, you’re still being tracked. The flat fee is a nice alternative if it does freak you out that they’re tracking,” he said.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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State says it’s not Big Brother by tracking your electric car