Motorists hit back on road pricing

Posted by Peter Cochrane on June 18, 2007

Gemma Simpson, Silicon.com, 18 June 2007

Since silicon.com columnist Peter Cochrane discussed how motorists might try and beat road pricing plans in a recent blog, our virtual postbag has been brimming over with readers' responses.

As Cochrane pointed out, concerns have already been raised about the availability of devices capable of jamming the satellite signals that could be used to make such road pricing schemes possible.

And silicon.com readers - many clearly very unhappy at the prospect of new methods of road charging - came up with a few ideas of their own about how people might want to cheat the system, from "stick a lump of lead in the appropriate place in the car", to blowing the car's fuses and jamming the GPS satellite signals with tin foil.

Some came up with even more sophisticated ways that the disgruntled might try to evade the system. One reader said: "Jamming is a crude method, and a bit obvious if your vehicle does no recorded mileage. Not much more technically difficult is to spoof the systems into thinking you have done just a few miles on low-cost routes."

But another reader was concerned spoofers would pass on their road charges and fines to other more honest road users. And Mark Hosey, a reader from Scotland, said an inexpensive low-tech solution, such as bumping up the road tax prices or encouraging home working, would be better than a pay-as-you-go tax.

In response to the plethora of reader comments, Cochrane told silicon.com: "In the UK people are totally frustrated by being persecuted for owning a car and needing to travel.

"When a population is over-taxed and over-controlled they automatically look for ways to defeat the system. One way or another, black and grey economies, ignoring the rules and even breaking the myriad of minor laws, always find a way to redress the balance," he said.