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Aggregating VMT Within Predefined Geographic Zones Using a Cellular Network

November 23, 2009
Aggregating VMT Within Predefined Geographic Zones Using a Cellular Network
Record Type: DOT

The current push for vehicles to become more fuel efficient, although good for the environment, poses a significant problem with the way we pay for our roads. Currently, most of the costs associated with roadway infrastructure are paid for by revenue collected from the motor fuel use tax. With new cars expected to use significantly less fuel, or none at all, a new method for assessing road user fees must be considered. One method that would address this issue would be to charge road users for the vehicle miles traveled (VMT). By using this approach, fees can be assessed based on how much each vehicle uses the roads, as opposed to basing fees on an approximation of road use determined by fuel consumption. There are multiple systems that attempt to achieve this with varying success. This project focuses on the development and evaluation of a system in which vehicles’ miles can be logged and aggregated by the geographic zone in which a vehicle travels. What is unique about the system is that it combines data from the vehicle’s data bus accessed via the on board diagnostic port (OBD-II port) with travel zones from a table that relates identified cell base station codes with geographic zones or their boundaries. The same cellular device that wirelessly communicates data to the administrative office that handles VMT fee transactions is thus also used to determine the zone of travel. This system must provide sufficient resolution to fairly attribute revenue to those jurisdictions in which the vehicle is traveling, while at the same time registering the same VMT for identical trips. The device must be accurate enough to properly determine when the vehicle is in a given zone, and the user must be able to make informed decisions about when and where they choose to drive to minimize the VMT fees they are assessed. However, the system should not associate any user with an area so small that their privacy is breached. The question of course from the perspective of the driver is: At what locating resolution will users feel that their privacy is infringed? The system must find a balance between correctly allocating VMT to geographic zones (thus maintaining system accuracy and auditability) and maintaining privacy. There are multiple ways to determine the location of a vehicle, however many of these methods identify specific road segments or capture map coordinates, unnecessary for this application. The VMT recorded only needs to be linked to a geographic zone. Locating users in “larger” geographic zones should provide for a solution that is fair to both the jurisdictions collecting revenue as well as to the road users. The objective of this project is to develop and test the concepts described above. The scope is to focus on three types of zones: (1) a congested commercial business district (CBD) usually associated with a “downtown” and skyscraper canyons, (2) a large contiguous urban/suburban zone surrounding the CBD core, and (3) a rural zone that would only identify the state in which rural VMT is aggregated.
Start date: 2009/8/1
End date: 2010/5/31
Status: Active
Secondary Number: CTS-2010053
Total Dollars: 31502
Source Organization: University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Date Added: 11/23/2009
Index Terms: Cellular telephones, Vehicle miles of travel, Onboard diagnostics, Onboard navigational aids, Traffic congestion, Wireless communication systems, Fuel taxes, Traffic zones, Central business districts, Research projects,

Sponsor Organization Project Manager
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Department of Mechanical Engineering
1100 Mechanical Engineering
111 Church Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Phone: (612) 625-0705
Fax: (612) 626-1854
Performing Organization Principal Investigator
Center for Transportation Studies
200 Transportation and Safety Building
511 Washington Avenue S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Phone: (612) 626-1077
Data and Information Technology
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