California Considers Turning License Plates into Digital Billboards

Paul Lilly

GMAC earlier this year surveyed about 5,000 motorists across the country with 20 test questions taken from various state driving tests, and for the second year in a row, California boasted more bad drivers than 47 other states. If we're to take this survey as accurate, then it's fair to say that California motorists have enough to worry about as it is, so why throw more distractions into the mix?

The answer is simple: money. Facing a $19 billion deficit, the California Legislature is kicking around a bill that would allow the state to begin researching what all would be involved with using electronic license plates for vehicles. The way it would work is when a vehicle is stopped for more than four seconds, the license plate would show digital ads or emergency messages, like Amber Alerts.

"We're just trying to find creative ways of generating additional revenues," said Curren Price, who authored the bill. "It's an exciting marriage of technology with need, and an opportunity to keep California in the forefront."

A company called Smart Plate has already begun developing the new plates, though is holding off on the production stage while the bill is debated. Smart Plate's chief executive M. Conrad Jordan insists that "the idea is not to turn a motorist's vehicle into a mobile billboard, but rather create a platform for motorists to show their support for existing good working organizations."

What's your take on ad-toting license plates?

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