Key terminology related to RUC


Autonomous Vehicle

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are vehicles that drive themselves (a.k.a. self-driving vehicles.) For some time now, specifically in the last five years, AVs have been a trendy topic as they begin to hit the roads in cities worldwide. Today, there are approximately 1,400 (and growing) autonomous vehicles on US roads right now. Over 80 companies are testing their merits, including Tesla, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler. Keep these vehicles on your radar, as they will become more common in the future.


Congestion Pricing

Designed to help ease demand on public roads and bridges, congestion pricing (a.k.a. “congestion charges”) is a system of surcharging users during times of excess demand. For example, congestion pricing may be used to disincentivize driving in a crowded city center during rush hour or for extended periods of time on a congested highway.


Electric vehicle (EV)

Just like it sounds, an electric vehicle is a vehicle that runs on electricity. In general, the term “electric vehicle” is exclusive to vehicles powered solely by electricity; however, there are three types of EVs.

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) are powered by electricity only. These cars emit zero emissions and most are capable of fast charging.

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) are similar to a hybrid vehicle, but it has a larger battery, an electric motor, and a gas tank. Just like BEVs, they also have a charging port.

Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) have electric motors that assist gas-powered engines. Although the vehicle’s energy comes from gasoline, it has low emissions.



Driving software today allows drivers to set a “geofence” or a digital boundary around an area of choice. For example, parents may choose to put a geofence around the high school their teen attends or a friend’s house they frequently visit. Each time the vehicle crosses those boundaries, the parents will receive digital confirmation the vehicle has arrived or departed those areas.



In the transportation world, “infrastructure” is used to encapsulate the foundational facilities, services, and installations needed for the proper functioning of a community’s transportation system. This includes roads, bridges, ports, airports, and trains, as well as all the facilities and signage needed to operate them.


Mileage-Based User Fee

The mileage-based user fee (MBUF) is known by multiple names: per-mile tax, road usage charges (RUC), distance-based user fees (DBUF), or vehicle miles traveled tax (VMTT). It is simply a tax based on how many miles a driver travels within a designated area.


OBD-II Device

Also known as a plug-in device, plug-n-play device, or diagnostics device, the OBD-II device is a small automotive accessory. It can be easily attached to its own port, which is standard in most vehicles manufactured since 1996.


OBD (Onboard Diagnostics) is the standard system used across most light-duty vehicles, to control and monitor the vehicle’s operations, health, and other diagnostic data generated by the vehicles on-board computer. OBD-II refers to the second generation of the onboard diagnostic system. The OBD-II port is the physical port in most vehicles which allows an external interface to the vehicle’s on-board computer using suitable hardware and software.


An original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is generally perceived as a company that produces parts and equipment that may be marketed by another manufacturer.


Road Usage Charging

Interest in road usage charging programs has increased over the past decade. States are facing declining fuel tax revenues and are looking for new ways to fund the maintenance and operation of transport infrastructure.

Road usage charging programs tax vehicles regardless of their fuel source or fuel consumption. Widespread adoption of road usage charging could generate more revenue for states than fuel-tax based systems do now.



Vehicle telematics combines GPS, onboard vehicle diagnostics, wireless communication devices and protocols, and other technologies to record and transmit vehicle data, such as speed, location, health diagnostics, maintenance, as provided by the vehicle’s on-board computer.


Vehicle Identification Number

Each vehicle has an identification code unique to that specific vehicle. This code, the vehicle identification number (VIN), serves as the vehicle’s fingerprint, as no two vehicles in operation have the same VIN. A VIN is composed of 17 characters (digits and capital letters) and can be used to track recalls, registrations, warranty claims, thefts, and insurance coverage.

Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax

The vehicle miles traveled tax (VMTT) is known by multiple names: per-mile tax, road usage charges (RUC), distance-based user fees (DBUF), or mileage-based user fees (MBUF). It is simply a tax based on how many miles a driver travels within a designated area.