Blown To Bits

Tracking Your Car in Massachusetts

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009 by Harry Lewis

Buried in a story about Governor Patrick’s plans about the Massachusetts gas tax is an interesting detail:

Patrick is also considering a new system that would charge drivers based on the miles they travel. Those trips would be measured by a chip installed in a vehicle inspection sticker.

No more information is provided, and I couldn’t find anything on the Commonwealth’s web site. It sounds vaguely like the Oregon proposal about which I previously blogged, which didn’t make a lot of sense as it was described — a GPS monitor used only to log miles traveled, which would be uploaded at gas stations when you refilled your car. This sounds different, but I don’t even understand the theory here. For a “chip” (an RFID presumably) to be embedded in a “sticker,” it would have to be a passive device, no battery, and could be read only from a distance of a few inches or at most a foot or two — not the active RFIDs like the ones in toll booth transponders. How would such a “chip” be used to track how many miles you’ve driven?

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