CONTACTTRAFFICABOUT TOM VANDERBILTOTHER WRITING CONTACT ABOUT THE BOOK

Accidental Vanity Plates

LOL!

Do you ever, as I sometimes do, notice a license plate that seems poised somewhere between the randomness of the state DMV and a full-on vanity plate? And you wonder for a moment whether the driver is trying to send some oblique message (perhaps overpaying for a rather weak vanity plate), or whether you’re reading too much into the humble tags, conspiracy-theory style? Sometimes what might seem inconsequential to someone might be very meaningful to someone else; hence the “lucky number” plates in China, where “AC6688″ went for nearly $10,000. I’ve had rental cars that began with some suggestive group of letters, e.g., “RU,” or “G7,” and I always wondered whether others saw the glimmers of meaning. After all, we spend a lot of time looking at license plates in traffic.

But now I’ve learned, via Roadguy, that seemingly meaningless configurations can have a way of suddenly becoming meaningful. To wit, some 10,000 plates in North Carolina seem to begin with the three-letter designation: WTF. The DMV’s own website contains this little example of license-plate bingo gone awry. Now, the folks at the DMV are expert at screening out potentially offensive vanity plates, but they certainly can’t predict the future, and could not have known that that might become a very meaningful acronym from the world of texting. They’re offering to replace them.

Now it’s got me in a panic. My own plate begins with “CUY.” Do fellow drivers think I’m paying vehicular homage to the Andean delicacy? Or will that someday become a contentious acronym (for, I dunno, “Coyote Ugly Youth”)?

I’m curious as to what other examples of “accidental vanity plates” might be out there in the real world, and I’ll send a signed copy of Traffic to the reader who sends a photo with the best example to info@howwedrive.com. I’ll post the winner a bit down the road. CUL8R…

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 1st, 2008 at 4:09 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “Accidental Vanity Plates”

  1. Jameson Says:

    Sadly, I don’t have a photo, but we spotted 2SHY269 in California years ago and confirmed that it was not in the vanity plate registry. No idea whether that guy knew he was broadcasting his bashfulness to reciprocate.

  2. Montana Miller Says:

    I used to date a guy whose license plate began with “DWM” (and then 3 numbers I don’t remember). From the first time I saw his car, I couldn’t help relating that to the personal ad abbreviation for “divorced white male.” Even though the guy had never been married, I always kind of felt like I was dating a divorced guy.

  3. Ron Says:

    Some of the plates I’ve seen recently issued in Michigan:
    BBW 0000 – Big Beautiful Woman?
    BFE 0000 – Butt —- Egypt
    BBJ 0000 – Hooker/John term bareb–k blow —

    Not out yet but probably soon:

    CYA 0000 – Cover Your Ass

    It’s impossible to screen all those out, but I wouldn’t want BBW or BFE on my license plate, and BBJ making sense to anyone is limited to those who cruise the naughty sections of Craigslist. I actually opted for the plate that’s $5 extra where it’s 0XX X00 format. It’s one less number to rattle around in my head when I remember my two different plates.

    -Ron

  4. Ron Says:

    Oh, I forgot, I used to see plates in the past that started with DUI.

    -Ron

  5. gwadzilla Says:

    as a cyclist I have seen a number of plates that read 666

Leave a Reply

Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

Please send tips, news, research papers, links, photos (bad road signs, outrageous bumper stickers, spectacularly awful acts of driving or parking or anything traffic-related), or ideas for my Slate.com Transport column to me at: info@howwedrive.com.

For publicity inquiries, please contact Kate Runde at Vintage: krunde@randomhouse.com.

For editorial inquiries, please contact Zoe Pagnamenta at The Zoe Pagnamenta Agency: zoe@zpagency.com.

For speaking engagement inquiries, please contact
Kim Thornton at the Random House Speakers Bureau: rhspeakers@randomhouse.com.

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Upcoming Talks

April 9, 2008.
California Office of Traffic Safety Summit
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May 19, 2009
University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies
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June 23, 2009
Driving Assessment 2009
Big Sky, Montana

June 26, 2009
PRI World Congress
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

June 27, 2009
Day of Architecture
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July 13, 2009
Association of Transportation Safety Information Professionals (ATSIP)
Phoenix, AZ.

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California State University-San Bernardino, Leonard Transportation Center
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Yale University
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International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (Organization Management Workshop)
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Monday, April 26
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Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals
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Fondo de Prevención Vial
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Royal Automobile Club
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Australasian Road Safety Conference
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Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s
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Tuesday, March 8, 2011
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Idaho Public Driver Education Conference
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Sunday, August 21, 2011
American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Attitudes: Iniciativa Social de Audi
Madrid, Spain

April 16, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Gardens Theatre, QUT
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April 17, 2012
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Centennial Plaza, Sydney
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Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
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January 30, 2013
University of Minnesota City Engineers Association Meeting
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January 31, 2013
Metropolis and Mobile Life
School of Architecture, University of Toronto

February 22, 2013
ISL Engineering
Edmonton, Canada

March 1, 2013
Australian Road Summit
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New York State Association of
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Rochester, NY

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September 26, 2013
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Grand Rapids MI

 

 

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