Esurance rolls out its pay per the mile auto insurance program in the same state that started road taxation by the mile – Oregon. Who gets the OBD II port?
Suddenly per-mile charges are all the rage in Oregon. For whatever reason, the state is now among the first to offer not just pay-by-the-mile road taxes, but also the first to offer pay-by-the-mile automotive insurance. Progressive has a similar device that charges you based on your safe (or not) driving style. These programs are attractive to many types of customers, but those that drive low numbers of miles with minimal drag racing and drifting seem to be the obvious target audience. The schemes all seem to be pretty well thought through, except for one detail. These devices, and others such as cell-phone blockers, all want to plug into the vehicle’s OBD-II port (On-board Diagnostics version 2).
The OBD-II port was introduced in 1996 following, you guessed it, OBD-I. It is a little slot under your dash that was originally designed not for gadgets to jam your kid’s iPhone, but rather to help technicians download emissions control data and error code messages from the vehicle when trouble arose or when the state decided to check your compliance with clean air rules.
Since there is only one of these slots under the dash, we wondered how the growing list of little spy/jammer devices would work together. We reached out to Esurance to ask that question, and the question was acknowledged, but we have not heard back. We sense that some head scratching is being done back at bill-by-the-mile headquarters. We will update the story if any solution to the suddenly popular OBD-II port quandary is answered.