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New California Bill May Allow For Electronic Ads on License Plates

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On: Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 10:00AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


New California Bill May Allow For Electronic Ads on License Plates

In the past, electronic flashing billboards on major roadways were illegal in many states, for obvious safety reasons, as the glitz of bright colored lights can be extremely distracting and potentially hazardous to motorists, particularly at night.

But times are changing, as California legislators are preparing to consider allowing electronic advertisements on license plates, as if drivers are not already distracted enough with all of the electronic toys inside their automobiles these days! The decision would be aimed at taking a bite out of the $19 billion deficit the State of California  now faces. Yes, advertisers would pay the state to relay their light-up subliminal messages on a newly-discovered, untapped canvas.

The electronic advertising device would allow for the license plate to appear as a standard plate when the vehicle was traveling down the road, but when stopped for a period of more than 4 seconds, such as in heavy grid-locked traffic jams and traffic lights, the digital message for the advertisement would appear. The automobile’s license plate number would remain visible in some part of the plate at all times, even when the ad was being displayed. Emergency traffic information, special alerts, and road conditions could also be displayed on the license plates.

There is no data yet on how much the state would charge or an estimate on the amount of revenue that the state would expect to bring in, but it has been reported that would-be advertisers would contract directly with the DMV in California to request their ad space.

Senator Price of Los Angeles, the bill’s author, said; “California would be the first state to implement such technology if the State Department of Motor Vehicles ultimately recommends the widespread use of the plates.” He also stated that many other states are considering a similar program to raise money. Price was quoted as stating, "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."

So far, the bill has not received any formal resistance; it passed unanimously through the Senate last month and is scheduled to be heard Monday by the Assembly Transportation Committee. According to Associated Press writer Robin Hindery, “CHP spokeswoman Fran Clader said the agency has not taken a position on the legislation. A spokeswoman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he also will remain neutral until the bill reaches his desk.”


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