Pilot Project

The centerpiece of the study is a focused pilot in Delaware that will also include regional stakeholders. Participants will have a choice of technology to record their miles driven during the three-month pilot. In addition, each technology option will offer a variety of services and amenities for participants, such as visual trip logs, driving scores, and vehicle health monitors. Pilot participants will not make any actual payments as part of this study. Rather, “faux” invoices will be sent out monthly showing what they would have been charged under a mileage-based system. The main purpose of the focused pilot is to provide a better understanding of how a mileage-based user fee might work in real life. We’ll learn how participants feel about things like receiving an “invoice” for road usage and if they think the system seems fair. Following are the technology options that participants will be able to choose from as part of this pilot.

You can also download a two-page handout about the options here.


Plug-In Device with Location

A device designed to plug in to a vehicle’s OBD-II port that automatically calculates the mileage-based user fee (MBUF) based on the state(s) where the vehicle was actually driven. The device combines the mileage data and fuel consumption data stored in the vehicle’s computer with the location of the miles driven using a GPS chip. Taking the recorded mileage and location data, along with the amount of fuel consumed, drivers pay for their miles driven based on the actual state(s) in which they drove and receive credits for fuel taxes paid. A location-based MBUF enables funds collected to be accurately distributed to where road wear and tear occurs. In addition, location capability provides the widest array of value-added amenities for drivers.

Plug-In Device with Location 2.png

Plug-In Device without Location

A device designed to plug in to a vehicle’s OBD-II port that automatically calculates the mileage-based user fee (MBUF) based on estimates of the state(s) where the vehicle was driven. The device accesses mileage data and fuel consumption data stored in the vehicle’s computer and applies assumptions about the percentage of in-state and out-of-state travel. Without location data, drivers pay for miles driven and receive credits for fuel taxes paid based on estimates of where the travel occurred. The non-location MBUF reduces privacy concerns regarding trip data, but does not provide an accurate connection between the funds collected and where the road wear and tear happens. Not having the location technology also limits the number of value-added amenities available for drivers.

Plug-In Device with Location.png

Smartphone with Location

An app downloaded on the driver’s smartphone that works with a credit card-sized device (beacon) to automatically calculate the mileage-based user fee (MBUF). The smartphone uses GPS to measure mileage and record in which state the miles are driven. The beacon is used to tie the Smartphone app to a specific vehicle; otherwise trips taken with the smartphone via other modes or vehicles (i.e. train or in another vehicle) will be billed for that additional mileage. To work correctly, the beacon and smartphone must be in the vehicle. Combining the recorded mileage and location data with official vehicle fuel consumption ratings (as determined by the EPA), drivers pay for their miles driven based on the actual state(s) in which they drove and receive credits for fuel taxes paid. A location-based MBUF enables funds collected to be accurately distributed to where road wear and tear occurs. Since there is no connection to data stored in the vehicle’s computer, several value-added amenities (e.g., vehicle health, battery performance, safe vehicle zones) are not available for drivers.

pilot_study_Smartphone with Location.png

Value-added benefits

Plug-In Device with Location Plug-In Device without Location Smartphone with Location
Device Operations
Uses GPS to determine where you traveled
Uses a device that plugs in to your vehicle
Requires a smartphone with downloaded app
Value-Added Amenities
Mileage-Based User Fee (MBUF) Details: View all the data pertaining to MBUF charges, including your miles traveled, fuel tax credit and wallet balance.
Trip Logs: Detailed trip logs remember each trip you’ve taken, so you can see details about your trips like duration, cost, and carbon footprint.
Vehicle Health: Get valuable information about what’s really happening with your vehicle when the Check Engine light goes on.
Battery Voltage: See how well your battery is performing and see right away if your battery is dead or getting old.
Driver Scoring: Driver scoring that shows how smooth you drive. Driving factors that are scored: high speed, acceleration, braking and idling.
Achievements: Earn badges that unlock for good driving behavior. Compete with friends and family to see who can unlock the most badges. A great tool for drivers to stay engaged and connected with their driving.
Safe Zones: Offers peace of mind that anyone driving your car (such as a teenager) is safe by allowing you to set up geographical zones and be notified when the vehicle has crossed those zones.
Enhanced Visual Trip Logs: Trip logs that show individual trips on a map and are shareable with friends.
2MyCar: 2MyCar: Guides you back to your car using your smartphone with either turn-by- turn instructions or by a straight-line route
Smartphone app required

Smartphone app required


What is an OBD-II port?

OBD stands for on-board diagnostics. The OBD-II port enables external devices to access data on mileage, emissions, speed and other subsystems that are already stored in a vehicle’s computer. The port is most often on the driver’s side of the vehicle either on or under the dash. The OBD-II port is typically available on any vehicle made after 1996. While it’s most often used by mechanics to diagnose problems with a vehicle, there are a growing number of devices that drivers can install to monitor their vehicle’s performance. One potential capability of these new devices is the calculation of a mileage-based user fee.

OBD-II Port Image.png

What are value-added amenities?

With watches, phones, ride hailing apps, and on-demand services, we are more connected and more demanding than ever before. Currently, tons of information is sitting within our vehicle, but remains out of reach for most drivers. Value-added amenities break down the barrier between the vehicle and driver by creating tools such as a battery life monitor, check engine message decoder, trip logs and vehicle safe zones. The same technology used to create these value-added amenities can also calculate a mileage-based user fee. The relationship between value-added amenities and MBUF is being explored in pilot studies.