Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Bleg to my fellow Texans

Our state is making a new license plate design, to accompany the rollout of the new 7-digit license plate format. (Bah.)

The state has decided to let the citizenry vote for which plate design is used next. Good idea, right?

Well, sort of.

I'm all for democracy. I think that creating a work that is generally pleasing to the eye of the citizenry is pretty cool.

But here's the thing:

Most people are going to pick the pretty ones, without regard to the function of the plate.

What's the function of a license plate?

Answer: To identify a given vehicle for administrative and emergency purposes.

Now, some of y'all might think "Screw it-- if the cops or the robot revenuers can't read my plate, that's just so much the better." But a license plate allows not just cops, but the general public at large to read a vehicle's identifying numbers, and to report that the vehicle was at a specific time at a specific place, performing a specific action. Hit and run? Get the plate number. Robbery? Get the plate number. Road rage? Plate number. DWI running people off the road? Ditto.

Plates are hard enough to read as it is. Road grime, soot, spattered asphalt, etc all make them hard to read from 50 feet away on a highway while driving at highway speeds, and still taking due caution to drive safely yourself. That's one reason why the state requires that the plate be kept clean. But when we remove the high-contrast of black on white, the plate starts off being harder to read.

I ask you, gentle reader, to help me out: go to the Texas Department of Transportation License Plate e-Vote Page*, and vote for "Traditional Texas:"
Classic. State of issuance is easy to read (more important than you might think, with multiple plate designs from 50 states, other territories, Canadian provinces, and Mexican states), high contrast, not overly busy, with the Texas Lone Star on the bottom. Superb.

Better than the current plate, in my opinion, which is listed as "My Texas."

I love bluebonnets, and think that our state flower is a wonderful representation of this great Lone Star State. But we don't need muted fields of them behind our letters. First, bluebonnets should never be muted in their colors. Secondly, it takes what should be white, and makes it the color of lead. Dumb. Please do not vote for "Natural Texas:"
While I find "Lone Star Texas" to be visually pleasing, it's still too busy for a license plate, and should be thrown out:
And while the contrast is okay with "New Texas," the design is horrid. Reminds me of a banner you'd see at a Gay Pride parade (not that there's anything wrong with that) during the Bicentennial. Ugh:
Yes, a secondary function of our license plates can be to show our state pride, but the foremost reason that we muddle with the sleek lines of beautiful cars is to identify them. Keep in mind that the number one cause of unnatural death and injury is by automobile. You, as a citizen, benefit when we can read the blasted things. And I don't have to tailgate your car as much when I'm running your license plate. And that's a Good Thing.
Thanks in advance.
_ _ _ _

*Note: two votes per household, and it doesn't seem to care whether you live in Texas or not.

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At Thursday, February 07, 2008 4:13:00 PM, Blogger Rabbit said...

SWMBO and both voted for Traditional yesterday. It was behind in the polling at that time by about 1/3. s much as she likes bluebonnets, she did say that it was a difficult plate to read.

I remember when the plates were white with nothing but the number and the word TEXAS, with the year embossed on them. Occasionally, they'd be green or red on white, but mostly back then, just black.

I'm gonna have to find some NOS 1969 plates for the pickup and just be done with it. Maybe some 1949 plates for Ol' Gussie, too.


At Thursday, February 07, 2008 8:17:00 PM, Blogger Diamond Mair said...

Per your request, I went with the Traditional - none of the others "sang" to me, anyway ....................... ;-)
Semper Fi'

At Thursday, February 07, 2008 8:38:00 PM, Blogger Pappy said...

Hey, they even let Okies vote. I voted traditional, but it's falling behind.

At Thursday, February 07, 2008 9:35:00 PM, Blogger Sabra said...

I rather like "Lone Star Texas" but will bow down to your expertise in the legibility category.

I rather loathed Natural Texas; I couldn't tell those were supposed to be bluebonnets until I read the accompanying newspaper article.

One I have always liked is the one for "State of the Arts" as it is designed to look like a Texas flag. Curious as to your opinion of that one.

At Thursday, February 07, 2008 9:41:00 PM, Blogger phlegmfatale said...

aw, crap. I hate that bluebonnet plate. Why must everything be so cluttered up? Ugh.

At Thursday, February 07, 2008 10:02:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

I love the "State Of The Arts" plate, Sabra. I almost bought one, myself (my wife is a sculptor). It's easy to read, and you can recognize the Texas flag 100 yards away.

At Friday, February 08, 2008 1:42:00 AM, Blogger KD5NRH said...

All of them suck; look at the relative positions of "TEXAS" and the upper screwholes. Plenty of cars are hard to mount plates properly to without a frame, and they've intentionally designed the plates so that any frame will at least partially cover the wording.

At Friday, February 08, 2008 2:59:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

KD5NRH, I don't mean to argue, but can you name me a single car that one can't mount a plate without a frame on it? I can't think of any. Any plate can be mounted with just the two screws through the top. The mounting rings (most of which are provided by the dealership to advertise for themselves) are entirely superfluous, in my experience. But perhaps you know of some that are not so?

The word "TEXAS" has fallen between the screw holes for decades.

I see that Michigan has been doing it for over half a century, and

Admittedly, some states over the years have managed not to do it that way, but most (including Texas) have.

At Friday, February 08, 2008 7:33:00 AM, Blogger breda said...

I liked the clean design of "traditional" anyway - the others were too busy.

At Friday, February 08, 2008 9:52:00 AM, Blogger David Neylon said...

I went for Traditional even though I live in Arizona. Figured I'd do what I could to help you out. :)

At Friday, February 08, 2008 10:25:00 AM, Blogger JPG said...

Matt - -
two votes from this household cast for "Traditional Texas" tag.

KD5NRH - - Did you notice that the link Matt provided to illustrate screw hole placement consisted of example Ham Radio Opr plates?


At Friday, February 08, 2008 1:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nevada has the name falling between the two screw holes too. I had a frame on my back license plate, but I noticed it covered up too much of both the state name and the registration stickers, so I moved it to the front, where it covering the state name wouldn't be quite as bad.

At Friday, February 08, 2008 2:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


May even do it on my other computers and screen names. ;-)

At Friday, February 08, 2008 4:50:00 PM, Blogger Not Afraid to Use It said...

Thanks for your POV on this issue. I hadn't thought of it that way before, but, but you are absolutely right. The whole point is to be able to READ the damned thing. I hope the plate you wanted wins.

At Sunday, February 10, 2008 6:56:00 AM, Blogger KD5NRH said...

1995 Subaru Legacy, and just about every other car with a plastic front bumper not designed for a front plate; there's nothing there to attach to but the single layer of plastic, and with only two screws that's not enough. I lost three plates off of that car before I gave up and put a frame on it.

Then you've got all the recent models that come with the drop-in theft-resistant style plate holders.

Then you've got the fact that there's just no good reason to do it.

At Monday, February 11, 2008 7:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got to vote, and I live in Louisiana.


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