Traditional number plats could be replaced by a far more technically advanced system known as ‘e-tag’ ─ and sooner than you might think.
As the ‘e’ in ‘e-tag’ suggests, it’s entirely electronic, allowing all text to be changed on the fly. Its biggest advantage is the fact it allows the DMV (the US cousin of the DVLA) to adjust the writing on the number plate to reflect the car or driver’s status – think ‘STOLEN’, ‘SUSPENDED’ or ‘UNINSURED’ in big letters
The plates could also display whether a car has vehicle tax, rendering tax discs (or stickers in the USA) obsolete.
“It’s not an LCD or an LED. What it’s made of is electronic paper,” said David Findlay, co-founder of Compliance Innovations, the company behind e-tag. “It’s a new technology that allows you to hold the image with no power whatsoever for over ten years. The only time it needs power is when you’re changing the status or the image on the plate.”
Besides alerting other road users to your shenanigans, the e-tag could also be fitted with a tracking device to help police locate stolen the vehicle in the event of it being stolen (unless the plates have been ripped off, of course).
So far the proposal is only in the early stages of planning. It is currently being considered by the US state of South Carolina, an area where expired tags and uninsured drivers costs the state $US150 million (£95 million) a year.
The e-tag is far more costly than a typical number plate – US$100 (£64) versus US7 (£4.50) – but the benefits of reducing the number of uninsured and illegal motorists on the road could ensure the reward far outweighs the initial outlay.
Would you want an e-tag on your car or is this a step too far? Let us know.