October 10, 2006

"We that handle plates are extremely excited"

Alabama switching to flat, digital license plates

Ahhh, back to one of my favorite stupid topics--license plates! Read the whole story, but the short one is that the old stamped steel plates are being replaced with flat aluminum blanks having a reflective material applied to them. Notice the number of tag permutations--225. If this works as advertised, it should be a lot more cost effective. Then again--if we could find a way to eliminate some of those more stupid tags, we could save a bit that way, too.

In any event, I think this is getting pretty close to what I suggested the last time the subject came up--just let everyone pick their own tag design like they do bank checks, or like the Postal Service was going to do with stamps. It's all digital now (supposedly) so it should be a simple matter of setting out a few guidelines for content (no naughtiness or making it look like some other state's tag), size, amount of contrast between background and numerals--stuff like that--and then let people have at it. Might even create a specialized niche of car tag artist to give the people who airbrush plates down in Gulf Shores something to do in the off-season.

UPDATE 2: Here is 3M's brochure about the technology (.pdf).

UPDATE 1: I was just perusing the Revenue Department's website and noticed something that is actually pretty cool, at least for those of us who like old cars.

Vintage Vehicles Can Now Display Original Model Year Tags

Act 2006-612 (.pdf) allows owners of antique or historical vehicles to register their vehicles using an original Alabama license plate issued in the vintage vehicle’s model year, beginning Oct. 2, 2006. Original Alabama license plates through 1976 qualify.

Not a big deal to most folks, but a lot of old car buffs like to have their car be as close to original as possible, and an old tag is one of those things that helps kinda set the mood.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at October 10, 2006 01:15 PM