Random vanity plate facts of the day (and I have a question: Which other countries permit vanity plates? I can’t recall seeing them in Europe, for example, but I may be wrong):

That’s how we know 1 in 26.15 registered motor vehicles have vanity plates, which translates into nearly 9.3 million or 3.8% of the nearly 243 million registered motor vehicles in the US. And that’s where we get the term, “vanity plate penetration,” and are able to use it in this sentence: Virginia has the highest vanity plate penetration with 1 in 6.18 registered cars (or 16%) being vanitized.

After Virginia, the next five states with the highest vanity plate penetration are New Hampshire (1 in 7.14); Illinois (1 in 7.45); Nevada (1 in 7.8); Montana (1 in 10.2); and Maine (1 in 10.21). The state with the lowest percentage of vanity plates is Texas, with only .56%, or 1 in 178.3 registered cars.

Via the wonderfully obsessive, if imperfect, Book of Odds.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 20th, 2009 at 10:24 am and is filed under Traffic Culture. 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.

15 Responses to “DIDJUNO?”

  1. Steve Jones Says:

    In the UK, you’re not allowed to use number plates other than those following the legal formats. However, some combinations will naturally spell words etc., and these are often sold separately by the official body.

    It’s also possible to buy an old car with the plate you like, and swap plates with your own car. The University of East Anglia, for example, always has a brand new car with the plate UEA 1, even though that plate was first registered before 1963. They just swap plates every time they replace the car. This makes for some valuable number plates attached to cars that are worthless! A quick check shows that a 17-year-old pile of rust is actually worth £1500 ($2500) for its plate alone, while the most expensive ever is the plate F1, which sold for £440,625 ($720,000).

    The ability to swap plates is a little odd, since new plates are supposed to designate the place and date that the car was registered. Letting people swap them around just makes a mockery of the system.

  2. Lauren F. Says:

    I always heard that the reason Virginia leads in vanity plates is because it’s cheaper to get them in VA than in any other state. I haven’t fact-checked this, but it would certainly explain the larger numbers if it’s true.

  3. Vagabondblogger Says:

    The UAE has what might be considered vanity plates. They would be plates with the lowest numbers, which at one time signified the importance of the owner. Now they are sold at auction to the highest bidder, which just signifies……wealth.

  4. Charlie Parker Says:

    IIRC German plates are in the format

    1 to 3 letters assigned for City/Region
    2 pickable
    1 to 4 assigned numbers

    So in (B)erlin many owner of a certain brand of car pick MW. Initials are also commonly picked.

  5. Yokota Fritz Says:

    Wikipedia lists Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Latvia, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovenia, Iceland and Sweden

  6. Tom Vanderbilt Says:

    On that last point, I detect a strange Antipodean/Scandinavian Axis of Vanity, the meaning of which I will leave unexamined.

  7. Rickman Smith Says:

    Registering authorities do it to raise revenue.

    That was a rhetorical question, wasn’t it?

  8. Joy K. Says:

    Is there a connection between states with the highest vanity plate penetration and the numbers of digits/letters allowed on a plate? In Texas, you only get a total of 6 letters and numbers, and there’s not much you can do with that.

  9. john Says:

    Give me SAFRNUS– at least it will help readers.

  10. Mikael Says:

    we have vanity plates in Denmark, but they’re rare. I think they’re frightfully expensive. I suggest ‘I KILL YOU’ or ‘UR DEAD SOON’ in order to highlight the danger of driving.

  11. Jan-Albert de Leur Says:

    In the Netherlands we don’t have vanity plates, mostly because the plates are not connected to the owner, but to the vehicle. Swapping plates is illegal.

  12. HorribleLicensePlates Says:

    Man, I would have thought Wisconsin would be on that list

  13. townmouse Says:

    In the UK, I did hear that PEN[one]S escaped into the wild, before the DVLA twigged… normally they try and weed out the offensive ones.

    Regarding year, you can’t put a plate on a car that would imply the car is newer than it is, but you can put a much older plate on a newer car.

  14. Nancy Says:

    Many years ago when I worked at the post office, a co-worker of mine [who very short and slight] got a vanity plate LILSCRO. He says he got it by the MVA by claiming it was short for “little scarecrow.” Now, why he’d want that on his plate, I do not know, that damned, elusive LILSCRO.

  15. chug Says:

    In Virginia where I live vanity plates cost $10 per year, a nominal sum. That’s why you see so many here.

    I never believed I’d buy vanity plates, but a few years ago was inspired by a plate from California I saw that perfectly fit one of my vehicles and my love of numbers.

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