In the UK, the typical driver spends, on average, 67 minutes a day driving— for those commuting in and out of major cities, this figure might be considerably higher!
Despite the fact driving can often be a stress inducing experience, (especially when negotiating the motorway at 5mph through morning and evening rush hour), studies have actually shown that getting out on the open road can be a fantastic way of alleviating anxiety. Even the former Stig, Ben Collins backs this up when talking about filming Bond movie, Skyfall: –
“When we filmed Skyfall I drove an Aston Martin DB5 across a mountain pass near Fort William before handing the keys over to 007. That car, with its yacht-like steering wheel and soft suspension, took me closer to heaven than anything I can remember.”
Although, when we’re parading the street in our motor, we do want it to look as good as feasibly possible. Crystal Palace football star Andros Townsend sports a ‘AND 20S’ plate, while television presenter Coleen Nolan drives the road with ‘CN0 14N’ on her bumper. At the top end of the scale, Chelsea Football Club owner, Roman Abramovich, forked out a whopping £285,000 to get his hands on the registration of ‘VIP 1’, The license plate had previously been commandeered by Pope John Paul II, to be used on the popemobile during his papal visit to Dublin.
Private registrations are, in effect, the perfect way to make your car your own. Of course, people opt for the likes of eyelashes on their headlights, or ladybird covers on the top of their aerials. But a registration in the automotive industry is considered the ultimate mark of class. That said, if you were to get the registration replaced on your car, would you be aware of the mass of legislation which comes with it? In this article, we take a look at the various laws surrounding your plates, and what you need to do to stay between the white lines.
The car registering system currently in place here in the UK has been present since September 2001 and its fairly easy to get your head around. Two numbers follow on from two letters, which are then succeeded by a further three letters, in a format such as this – XX11 XXX. The first two letters are known as the local memory tag and used to describe the area in which the car has been first registered. London, for example, has a local memory tag ranging from ‘LA’ to ‘LY’. However, no memory tag includes a Z, with it only being used as a random letter.
The age identifier are the following two numbers. From 1st September 2001 to the end of February 2002, each car registered in the UK was assigned the age identifier, ‘51’. The following six-month period, 1st March 2002 to the end of August, the identifier was amended to reflect the first half of the year, being ‘02’, and ‘52’. The remaining three letters are a random allocation — simple.
When cars from 1983 to 2001 get involved, however, things get rather confusing. Instead of using two digits to reflect the age of a vehicle, they used a singular latter, excluding the letters ‘I’, ‘O’, ‘U’, and ‘Z’, due to their close resemblance to particular numbers.
Did you know, it is actually against the law to put a registration on your car with an age identifier which states your car is younger than it is? Take for example you had a car that was registered in 2012 — it is against the law to put a 2015 age identifier on it. However, it is completely legitimate to use a 2009 or a dateless one, as no deception is taking place.
In terms of style, there is a template which is used uniformly across the UK. Even though you may be able to find alternatives templates on offer, they aren’t actually legal for road use. White background plates on the front, and yellow on the back must be accompanied by a Charles Wright font, which has been set by the British Standard rules.
As well as the font, and background, the spacing between the different letters and identifiers must infit with the preestablished regulations. The height and width of letters is also regulated. If you would like to include a flag on your vehicle’s plate, you may — however, it has to coincide with the country in which it was registered or be a union flag for the entirety of the UK. If you fail to comply with these, you will fall foul of a £1,000 fine, and instantly fail an MOT.
Spick ‘N’ Span
Last but not least, remember to clean your number plate, as a dirty one may be unreadable and therefore could incur a fine. This may seem unfair, however, the entire purpose of having a registration plate on your vehicle is to make it identifiable to authorities.
Road service operated speed cameras, council-controlled bus lane cameras, and the police need to be able to see your number plate. In recent years, the police have been clamping down on motorists with plates which have been made dirty, or are obstructed by muck, dishing out fines of up to £1,000 — yes, a car wash is significantly more cost-efficient.
Although we can often be fairly critical in regard to transport laws, they are in place to ensure safety on the road!