Road taxes have come under increasing scrutiny these days, what with congestion charges, speeding fines and average-speed cameras all annoying motorists to no end. It's especially bad for people who drive little but must still pay the same taxes as those who drive long distances every day - they are getting taxed at a higher rate for their use. The Dutch may have found a way to solve that particular injustice, however.

The Dutch government is using GPS to track cars and charge them money based on the type of vehicle they own, how much they use it, what time they use it and whereabouts they are driving. All this information is sent to a government computer via a car transmitter and the cell-phone network and a fee is calculated, although the Dutch government has been quick to point out that no information about driver whereabouts is ever stored.

The system works by taking substantive factors into account in road taxation, including congestion periods and environmental impacts of cars. For example, if you are riding a low-polluting motorbike around the country at 3am you will be charged significantly less than an SUV driving through the city center in peak hour traffic.

However, because of the difficulty in installing the needed electronics on a motorbike, they may be exempted from the per-kilometer tax scheme and instead keep the older, purchase and sales-based tax scheme.

Currently, the rate of charges is unknown but should be light enough to not impact on the majority of the population too severely. The system will be phased in starting in 2011, with commercial trucks being the first to switch to the new system and eventually all vehicles will be subject to the per-kilometer taxation by 2016.

Between now and 2011, the Dutch government will put the technology and infrastructure for the system through a number of trials to ensure it is ready when the system goes live.

The method is also being scrutinized for possible use in the UK, which is also examining average-speed cameras and lower speed limits.