Consumer Reports: California considers ads on car license plates

Facing a $19 billion deficit, California is seeking creative solutions to its budget shortfall. The state legislature is considering a program that would allow advertising on license plates, according to the Associated Press. The bill would require new, digital plates, with ads appearing in the space currently occupied by the familiar numbers and letters. The ads would only appear once the vehicle had been sitting still for four seconds.

Smart Plate, a San Francisco startup, is reportedly developing a digital license, though it does not have a model that is production ready.

A CNN story suggests that these plates could display paid advertising and public service announcements (PSAs). Further, the new plates could benefit the Amber Alert system, with notifications flashed on plates across the state to apprehend criminals. It’s conceivable, though, that some drivers may not agree or endorse an advertised product or PSA.

In a nation already overrun by advertising, and with distracted driving fatalities and injuries on the rise, it seems like a no-brainer to defeat such legislation that could only make our roads more dangerous.

And California, as opponents to the ads point out, already has some of the worst traffic jams in the country. It stands to reason that ads popping up on cars will only add to driver distraction.

I understand that desperate times call for desperate measures,  but it strikes me that this fanciful idea could create more problems than it solves.

What do you think? Post your thoughts and alternative suggestions in the comments below.

via Consumer Reports Cars Blog: Budget brainstorm: California considers ads on car license plates.

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