Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Calif. license plates might go digital, show ads

When I read the article on Yahoo (linked at bottom) that there was actually a legislation bill being presented for this I couldn't help but think, "Wow, that's a really bad idea."

It really is a struggle to think how this might benefit the individual. The chief executive of the company talks about how it could be used for personalized messages and to show allegiance to a team or alma mater. Well I don't know about California, but here in NY we already have personalized plates without the the need to go digital. So what would the real advantage be for spending, what I will assume to be quite a bit more money,  for license plates that have been digitized?

Well according to sponsors of the bill, it's about generating revenue for the state. The bill's author, Democratic Sen. Curren Price of Los Angeles said, "We're just trying to find creative ways of generating additional revenues. It's an exciting marriage of technology with need, and an opportunity to keep California in the forefront."  The forefront of what, Big Brother technology and corporate interference in our lives? And who's "need" are you talking about Senator? To generate any serious revenue, either the ads will be mandatory, or it will be the drivers who have to fork over a lot more money for these digital plates that weren't needed n the first place, or both. Can you imagine being a single Mom struggling to put food on the table and having to shell out a few hundred bucks extra to register your car,  just so that you can comply with the regulation to be a mandatory billboard?

Now I don't know about the rest of you folks, but I don't like the idea of being forced to advertise for anyone. I wear shirts without logos because I resent the idea of paying for a shirt that turns me into a walking billboard for the company I just handed my money over to. Maybe they should be paying me instead if they want to recruit for the Airpost Navy. Moreover, what if my plate starts blipping an ad for some company that I really despise? I want no part of promoting a company like the downright evil Monsanto and their weed killer, for example. Or what if I happen to be a dairy farmer and my plates start running ads for soymilk? That would really get my goat. Or can you imagine a McDonald's truck stopped at a light blinking an ad for a Whopper?

Okay, let's go ahead and assume that they wouldn't force ads down our throat like that, that the registrant would have control over the ad space, and that there would be no additional cost to the vehicle owner. I don't believe that for a second, but for the sake of argument here, let's just talk safety for a moment. Aren't there already more than enough distractions for a driver? The leading cause of accidents, yet the state is willing to nudge the risk level higher to generate some revenue. What about all these laws they have passed over the years, forcing us to be safer? Put your seatbelt on, can't smoke in your car because it's a distraction, can't have an air-freshener dangling from your rear-view mirror, on and on. Ohhh, but for a few bucks the state is willing to up the ante on the leading cause of car wrecks. Distractions are more dangerous than speeders, more dangerous than drunk drivers, but the state is willing to risk your life for a few bucks. I'm beginning to think that maybe all these laws were never really about our safety to begin with.

But let's just stick with that topic for another moment. According to the article, the ads will only run once the car is stopped for a few seconds. But even so, doesn't that sort of invalidate the whole idea of a license plate in the first place? Not entirely I suppose, because they promise that the number will say visible in "some section" of the screen. Great, it will be so small you can't read it when you finally catch up to a hit-and-run driver stopped at a busy intersection, but at least you will know about the sale this week at 31 Flavors.
The primary "safety feature" of the plate will be that it can run Amber alerts or other emergency traffic messages. Okay, that sounds fine I suppose. Of course I wont be able to read the plate number of the kidnapper's car through the amber alert message, but okay I guess. What are the chances of me actually seeing a suspect vehicle anyway? So maybe the amber alert on plates is pretty useless, but it might save a life or two. Probably kill a few thousand distracted drivers in the process, but hey, you know what they say about making an omlette. And I suppose getting traffic advisories might be kind of nice. Too bad I won't be able to read it until after I have passed the last exit and I am caught in the parking lot that backed up behind the freeway wreck caused by some distracted driver, but okay.

So what really is the point of all this? Just doesn't really seem to make much sense, even for the state really. It feels like they are pulling a Dr. Evil strategy here like,  "Why make billions, when you can make...millions?!" A lot of cost and aggravation for a negative net gain. What's really going on here? What are they really trying to slip past us here? Still thinking? What do you think the odds are that these new plates will be equipped to transmit as well as receive? Of course, the news articles aren't saying anything about the real details of the technology, and neither is the good senator. But there you have a serial coded digital device receiving individualized data. I think it would be safe bet to say that the new plate will be a mandatory tracking device for every single motor vehicle. And if you really think that is a good thing, just keep on reading the MSMReview. You'll have your "ah-ha!" moment yet.

Yahoo News

No comments:

Post a Comment


When posting comments, please refrain from using obscenities or your comments will be deleted. Self-imposed censoring by inserting symbols to "bleep" your swear words is acceptable.

The views and opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the MSMReview or November-Blue Enterprise. We encourage open discussion with a wide variety of viewpoints and the open sharing of information. Please feel free to leave comments and to engage in respectful debate.