Sunday, March 30, 2014

Opening Day: License plates of baseball's American League East

We make our turn toward home base with a glance at the plate-happy AL East, in this final installment of the Opening Day tribute to license plates.

Boston's own Red Sox make a trip to Baltimore's beautiful Camden Yards to meet the Orioles. The Sox, being not so much a baseball team as a regional way of life, are represented by not one but three states where vehicle registrations are concerned. Massachusetts, at least until this year, offered two different plates for Royal Rooters: the usual Jimmy Fund plate as shown at right, and a less common plate (shown below) for backers of a "Mini Fenway Park" to be built for kids in Quincy. After a decade of fundraising, however, it appears that the Mini Fenway project has fallen through, and the plates must now be swapped out for another option with the RMV. Besides those options for Mass residents, Connecticut and (most recently) Rhode Island denizens can also promote their Sox pride, as shown below. The RI plate in particular is quite pleasing, using the "Green Monster" as its background and the distinctive team font for its state name.
Photo by Dani De Guzman, hosted at PlateShack

Orioles fans in Maryland also have a choice of plates, or at least sort of. The vast majority of O's fans will be able to get the standard plate issued by the team, as shown at left. For the more serious bird backers, however, membership in the invitation-only Oriole Advocates club is required. No real photo of this plate is readily available, otherwise I'd show it to you. (If anyone has a photo of the actual plate, please do share!)

The Toronto Blue Jays cross the border for an evening game with the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night. (Which would make this a Jay-Ray Opening Day, say hey!) Should any Ontario fans make the long drive south, one would hope their vehicles might carry the province's lovely Blue Jays plate. Ontario has been very diligent about keeping the team's logo up to date over the past few years, with the most recent issue marking the team's return to the classic 1977 design in a slightly updated form.

Meanwhile in Tampa, the successful-beyond-expectation Rays have quickly become Florida's premier baseball team, making their plate quite popular even beyond the Bay area. That said, it's a bit on the bland and white side for a club that often plays games in a beautiful pastel blue version of their uniform. Why couldn't that color have made it onto this plate?

Finally, the ever-popular New York Yankees wait until Tuesday night to open their regular season, finding themselves in temperate Houston to taunt the Astros. The state of New York naturally offers a Yankees plate of their own (as seen at right), but they also continue to provide a plate honoring the 2009 World Series Champion team as well. (See below, and note that it's based on the template of the older "Empire Blue" issues rather than the newer "Empire Gold" like the regular plate.) New Jersey also offers a Yankees plate for fans in their state, as shown below.

Thus ends our roundup of Major League Baseball's license plates, as available for 2014 Opening Day. If there's any I might have missed, feel free to let me know in the comments on any of these posts. Now, play ball!

Opening Day: License plates of baseball's American League West

We return, sunset-bound, to see the American League West on our continuing tour of Major League Baseball's Opening Day license plates.

The Texas Rangers host the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday afternoon. The Rangers, like almost every other entity in Texas (and Dallas in particular), would probably prefer to keep their image big and bold with a colorful plate instead of the subdued one they've been saddled with. Despite being knocked out of the playoffs early last season, they remain the top ball club in the state. Granted, that's not saying much when your competition is the Astros, but there you are.

Late on Monday night (at least by east coast standards), the Cleveland Indians will be in Oakland to take on the Athletics. As mentioned previously, California is not yet in the habit of offering pro-team license plates, so the A's will have to wait.

The same is true for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, also bereft of a plate for their fans, as they host the Seattle Mariners. The M's do indeed have a plate offered by the State of Washington, a lovely celebration of 1990s teal and Mount Rainier that was originally introduced to help fund the team's stadium construction budget (hence the tiny interpretation of Safeco Field in the lower left corner).

Despite the fact that MLB tries to get every team to play on the first full day of the season, it usually works out that a couple of teams end up slightly behind the curve. This season, the Houston Astros will host the New York Yankees on Tuesday - a day after most other teams have made their first effort. Being late to the party is not a new phenomenon for the Astros, who seem to be perpetually locked in a rebuilding phase. Similarly late to the party is the State of Texas, which is still offering plates with Houston's old logo script about a year after the team officially switched to a retro design. One wonders if the team's general unpopularity in recent years has forced the state to wait and clear out old stock before redesigning the plate, but that's just speculation on my part.

We'll complete our stretch run next with the AL East.

Opening Day: License plates of baseball's National League East

In our continuing review of Major League Baseball license plates, we move to the National League East. Where previous posts had noted the lack of plate offerings in certain divisions, the NL East gives us way more to look at.

The Washington Nationals travel to Queens on Monday, home of the New York Mets. The Nats represent the District of Columbia, of course, but they are also followed in a wider area encompassing much of western Maryland and northern Virginia. Thus, all three jurisdictions offer a plate to honor DC's team. And interestingly, they all appear to have been designed along the same lines with the "curly W" logo at left on a white background, with red lettering for the legends. The DC plate is shown at right. (Note the appearance of "District of Columbia" rather than "Washington, DC" on this plate - the District has recently committed to using their legal name on plates as of this year.) Virginia and Maryland versions appear below.

Meanwhile, the Mets are represented by two jurisdictions as well. New York's own edition is based on the recently introduced "Empire Gold" base, but carries over the general design of the old "Empire Blue" variety. Meanwhile, New Jersey also offers a Mets plate on the usual yellow base, but printed flat rather than embossed like most other NJ plates (though the flat design is now reportedly spreading through the rest of the state's plates as we speak). New York's plate is shown at left, and New Jersey's appears below.

It should also be noted that New York offers a license plate for jilted Brooklyn Dodgers fans, or at least for Brooklynites who wish to "keep the flame alive" in a way. This may be the only instance I'm aware of in which a team that no longer has any presence in a given market is represented by a license plate - you will remember that the Bums moved to Los Angeles and the sunny confines of Chavez Ravine back in 1958. That was well over 60 years ago, which is why it's remarkable that enough people in Brooklyn still care about the loss of the Dodgers to earn a plate commemorating them.

Philadelphia's Phillies take on the Texas Rangers in Arlington on Monday afternoon. As noted with Pittsburgh in the NL Central, Pennsylvania does not offer plates to honor their sports teams. Too bad for Keystone Staters, then, but no problem for the Garden State - western New Jersey, being within the Phils' reach, offers a plate to pick up the slack.

The Atlanta Braves head to their old digs in Milwaukee, now the home of the Brewers, on Monday afternoon. Georgia is fairly prolific with their specialty plates these days, and especially so now that they've redesigned many of them to better fit the new flat printed production method. That said, considering the new level of color and detail that many Georgia plates now offer, this Braves design is fairly subdued.

Finally, the Miami Marlins host the Colorado Rockies on Monday evening. Having recently redesigned everything about themselves - new stadium, new colors, new logos, new uniforms - the Marlins naturally got a new plate from Florida to match. Not everyone is a fan of the new-look Marlins logo and colors, but I think they work well - no other team, save possibly for the Orioles, has truly embraced orange like the Marlins have. Now if they could actually put a competent baseball team together, they'd really have something special. I guess they'll have to settle for good-looking license plates.

Next installment, we'll return to the junior circuit and the wild west.

Opening Day: License plates of baseball's American League Central

After exploring two divisions of the National League, we'll turn to the American League Central in our continuing exploration/celebration of MLB-themed license plates.

Monday afternoon, the Kansas City Royals will take on the Detroit Tigers. Unfortunately, neither of these teams are represented by their respective states (Missouri and Michigan) with a commemorative license plate. For the Royals, this is especially galling considering that the Cardinals are represented - and, no, there's no help across the border either, as Kansas doesn't offer one either.

Later in the evening, the Minnesota Twins travel to Chicago's South Side to tangle with the White Sox. Ball three for the AL Central arrives now, because Minnesota doesn't have a Twinkies plate either. But Illinois comes through, giving Sox fans a beautiful black-and-white issue to match their team's starkness of uniform.

Finally, the Cleveland Indians will find themselves in picturesque Oakland, California on Monday evening for a clash with the Athletics. At about the same time as Ohio refreshed the rest of their plates to match the new "Ohio Pride" design, they switched the Indians' old Chief Wahoo logo out for a more generic "Indians" script logo. This de-emphasis of the insensitive native portrayal has been gradually increasing for the past few seasons, to the point where the team's uniforms now focus more on the block-C design. This plate, in its small way, is an extension of that effort.

We'll journey back to the NL in our next installment, turning to the East.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Opening Day: License plates of baseball's National League Central

Opening day for Major League Baseball starts Sunday night with the Dodgers and Padres, but most teams will toss their first pitch on Monday. That includes much of the National League's Central Division, whose commemorative license plates we'll be exploring here.

The Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates get first crack on Monday. Since Pennsylvania does not offer plates for their pro sports teams, Chicago fans can at least take pride that their state will honor the Cubbies where the "gods of baseball" have yet to do so - at least for the last hundred years or so. This is a clean, well-done plate in the style of Illinois' other plates for sports teams, featuring the Big-C logo and a pinstripe along the top.

Later in the day, the Atlanta Braves visit their former home in Milwaukee to tangle with the Brewers. The Brew Crew are notable for offering not just one, but two plates to honor their nine. One version features the team's current logo style, and is rendered in the current color scheme of royal blue and old gold.

However, long-time fans and/or traditionalists may prefer the second option, which uses the old "m-b" logo and a bright blue/yellow theme in keeping with the team's old look from the 1970s and 1980s. Of the two choices, I have to say that I rather like this one better - not just because I tend to prefer the old logo and colors, but because it also makes for a more effective license plate. See how the yellow makes the legends "pop" off the blue background?

Finally, the St. Louis Cardinals travel to the Queen City for a tilt against the Cincinnati Reds, in a divisional match-up between two of the league's most storied and successful franchises. Missouri offers a somewhat subdued plate for Cards backers, featuring a stoic cardinal perched in his usual place on a bat. Honestly, it seems fairly similar in layout to the Brewers plates above, but one could wish for a bit more color.

As for the Reds, Ohio offers a plate that is broadly similar to the rest of the state's specialty plate choices, featuring the characteristic "C" logo and the "Reds on Radio" legend at the bottom - which is effectively an ad for the Cincinnati Reds Radio Network. Nearly every other Ohio sports plate just carries the team name on the bottom, so why they got a special call-out, I'm not sure. (If anyone knows why, please fill me in and I'll report back.)

Coming up next: our first visit to MLB's junior circuit.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Opening Day: License plates of baseball's National League West

If you don't count last week's "Australian Experiment" between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks, Major League Baseball's Opening Day happens this weekend with a Sunday night match between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. In honor of baseball's return, I'll spend the next several days giving you all a tour through the world of MLB-themed license plates.

Now, normally, this is where I would show you a picture of the available license plates for these two storied franchises - except that there are none, because the State of California has not yet deemed any of its professional sports teams to be worthy of a specialty tag. Too bad.

So we'll move on, then. The ever-rebuilding Colorado Rockies take on the swampy mess that is the Miami Marlins on Monday night, in a battle of two franchises that entered the league at the very same time in 1993. Florida has offered Marlins plates for a good while, but Colorado has only recently begun issuing plates for the pinstriped purple faithful. Featuring the state's usual mountain-outline style, but rendered in purple with the iconic "CR" logo at the center, it's a good-looking plate that benefits the team's charity operations. It's also worth noting that this is one of Colorado's few plates in which the font for the lower legend differs from the standard block style used on most other specialty issues.

Photo by Jack McGee at PlateShack
Later that same evening, the San Francisco Giants - who, like their SoCal brethren, also remain plateless - head into the desert to take on the Arizona Diamondbacks. It's a good thing for the Rockies that Arizona decided to adjust their color scheme a few years ago, otherwise it might have had a lot more purple in it as well. As it is, this issue makes good use of the team's desert-themed hues. Note that the pictured plate has an embossed serial; most of the Diamondbacks plates on the road now carry a flat serial instead.

More to come, with a trip through the NL Central on the way.

News: ALPCA selects Michigan's Mackinac optional issue as Best Plate of 2013

Photo by ALPCA
From a worthy field of twelve finalists, the membership of the Automobile License Plate Collectors Association (ALPCA) has voted Michigan's optional Mackinac Bridge plate as the Best Plate of 2013.

The new Mackinac plate was introduced in January of last year as part of a wider refresh of Michigan's licensing designs, all of which now include the state's "Pure Michigan" tourism slogan as a prominent feature. This winning effort improves on its predecessors by combining high visibility of the serial number with a bright and bold graphic - ALPCA members are urged to vote for the design that best exemplifies both criteria.

ALPCA is the first and largest group of license plate collectors and enthusiasts in the world, founded in the United States in 1954 and currently supported by over 2,500 dues-paying members. The Best Plate competition has been held annually since 1970, and the 2013 edition marks the first time that plates from outside the United States and Canada have been eligible for nominations.

Michigan's Department of State, the entity responsible for vehicle licensing in the state, will be presented the award by ALPCA President Greg Gibson later this year. Stay tuned for more details.

Just like Montana's old plates...

Image by Jack McGee, and hosted by PlateShack
...I've returned.

Sure, I took the last year off from this blog. My apologies to the two of you who read it. But in my defense, I moved, got married, and am now about to embark on a move halfway across these United States of ours - to Beautiful Ohio, Birthplace of Aviation.

I have lots to write about in regards to vehicular registration these days, so keep your plate-spotting eyes on this page and join the fun.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Colorado / Stay the Trail Plates Seek Public Approval

An organization for OHV (off-highway vehicle) enthusiasts in Colorado is looking to create their own specialty plate to raise awareness of their mission.

Aptly named Stay the Trail Colorado, the organization aims to promote responsible off-road driving and works with the state to provide and maintain usable wilderness trails for that purpose. They are currently seeking signatures on the petition at their website from interested parties (you must be a resident of Colorado for your vote to be counted, however).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Arizona / News: Centennial issue wins ALPCA Best Plate Award

Breaking news! Members of the Automobile License Plate Collectors Association (ALPCA) have voted to give their annual Best Plate Award to Arizona for their Centennial issue.

Celebrating 100 years of Arizona statehood, the plate features a representation of the state's iconic flag design as its overarching motif, with a clearly visible white serial number to provide good contrasting legibility from a long distance.

Congratulations to Arizona's Motor Vehicle Division on this impressive achievement!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Idaho / Sesquicentennial to be celebrated with special license plate

Idaho will celebrate its 150th anniversary next year, and the legislature has approved the creation of a specialty license plate to help extend the festivities. This measure came about just after the governor signed a proclamation to designate the Idaho Historical Society as the lead agency in charge of the program.

When sales of the plate begin, the proceeds will benefit individual county historical organizations around the state of Idaho.

Source: Standard-Examiner Mar. 7 article.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Washington / News: 4-H license plate will benefit 100K kids and volunteers

Washington's newly-approved 4-H license plate has the potential to benefit over 90,000 children and 10,000 adult volunteers in 4-H programs across the state.

The plate costs $40 above standard registration fees, with $28 going directly to fundraising efforts. 4-H hopes to see at least 3000 motorists choose the plate when it becomes available next year - a total that would raise over $100,000 annually.

Source: Tacoma News-Tribune Mar. 20 article.

California / News: Agriculture license plate almost fully grown

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has been promoting the idea of an agriculture-themed license plate for many years, and finally received legislative approval for it in 2010. In most other states, this would be pretty much the end of the story, and people would already be enjoying the use of "ag tags" (as they've been nicknamed).

But California has one of the highest thresholds for specialty plate production, requiring a minimum of 7500 pre-orders from interested parties before production can begin. The CDFA began this process in earnest as soon as their plate was approved.

Two years later, the CDFA has not yet reached their goal - but now they're reportedly very close, and are making a final push to get over the line by the April 6 deadline set by the state. They also gained some unexpected help from a generous donor who is offering to reimburse prospective buyers' extra registration costs for the first year of the new plate's use.

When it is finally released to the public, the plate will help to fund education and career programs in agriculture-related fields, as well as youth leadership programs.

Sources: Western Farm Press Mar. 2 article, CDFA info page.

California / News: Arts Council License Plate Aims for the Stars

The California Arts Council is hoping to vastly increase their current funding level by leaning heavily on their state's most marketable asset - Hollywood stars.

As part of a new program called "Create a State", the Council has enlisted a variety of entertainment icons to appear on electronic billboards around the state promoting the Arts license plate. The stars, being billed as "Arts Drivers", will (it is assumed) sport Arts plates on their personal transportation and help to promote them elsewhere. And it is a fairly impressive list: Robert Redford, Steve Martin, Quincy Jones, Jack Black, Annette Bening, Tim Robbins, Harrison Ford, Russell Simmons, the Edge (of U2 fame), Vernon Davis (49ers player), and the cast of "Glee" to name just a few.

The plates earn $35 for the Arts Council each time they are registered, and $40 each time they're renewed. At the present rate of around 65,000 annual regs/renewals, they earn a minimum of $2.28 million per year (my calculation, on the conservative side). The Council would like to increase that figure greatly - up to one million plates a year, for a possible haul of over $35 million annually (again, my calculation). This would, if all goes well, raise the state's spending on arts programs to just over one dollar per capita.

In a calculated move, the Arts Council has also convinced a variety of car rental agencies and other operators of auto fleets to fit their vehicles with Arts plates as well. This is beneficial on two levels, in that the Council receives its cut while the business also earns a tax deduction by dint of their financial support for a non-profit group. Besides, the plates just look cooler than the plain old script plates, right?

 Sources: Los Angeles Times March 15 article, California Arts Council advocacy info.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Wyoming / News: Over 5000 University license plates served

As of last week, the University of Wyoming has sold over 5000 of their distinctive yellow-on-brown license plates to motorists throughout the state. The plates are promoted by the UW Alumni Association and benefit the University's scholarship fund.

UW plates are hard to track overall highs for, because they are included (like almost all Wyoming plates) in the state's county-coding system. Hence, each county has its own "high" for the UW plate - the highest spotted at present is 1-481 in Natrona County. And that naturally doesn't account for personalized plates, which don't fit in any numbering system. So it's nice when the numbers for this sort of plate are provided to interested parties.

Sources: University of Wyoming news post, Wyoming data.

Utah / News: Proposed MLK license plate avoids controversy, moves forward

After seemingly being derailed by criticism from his family, a bill for a license plate intended to honor the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has gotten back on track and is continuing through the legislative process.

In question is House Bill 506, which found itself struggling after Rep. Brad Daw (R-Orem) questioned language regarding the plate's fundraising goals, in which it was proposed that the money raised would be used for the promotion of "human rights" -- echoing the name of the Utah Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Foundation that the plate will support.

Rep. Daw received a letter from Alveda King, MLK's niece, who expressed concerns that the Utah Foundation's chairman had testified to the House committee about his personal support for abortion rights. Ms. King urged the Utah House to address the issue of abortion, noting that her uncle would have denounced the practice and urging Utah to only honor the rights he did fight for. Rebecca Chavez-Houck (D-Salt Lake City), the bill's sponsor, advised that the proceeds were originally intended to help fund scholarships and civil rights awareness.

Hence, the bill was amended with Chavez-Houck's approval, so that the plate's proceeds can only support the promotion of "constitutional" and "inalienable rights" (like life, liberty and/or the pursuit of happiness). The amended bill has since passed the House and is now working its way through the Utah Senate.

Sources: Deseret News Mar. 5 story, Salt Lake Tribune Mar. 6 story.

Nevada / News: Silver State will license robots to drive

Gov. Sandoval escapes from the robot.
From the "brave new world" category comes news that Nevada is now allowing driverless robotic cars to travel its roadways legally. Just look for the bright red license plates, recently approved by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Part of an experiment in automation sponsored by Google, these cars have previously been traveling across the western United States for over 100,000 miles with human minders on board to take over in the event of any mishaps (only two of which have occurred in all those miles, both without injury or damage). While they've been used so far in the pursuit of better data for Google Maps, the eventual intent is to bring them to the mainstream public with the hope of reducing vehicle accidents.

Nevada's plan is to first register these types of vehicles with unmistakable red license plates during the testing phase, and then issue bright green license plates for approved technology at some point (probably many years) in the future. All automated cars currently being licensed for use in Nevada must carry a multi-million-dollar bond against potential damages, and must provide a detailed description of what is being tested.

Sources: Singularity Hub Feb. 22 story, Google news release, Nevada DMV news release.

Nebraska / News: Union Pacific license plate leaves the station

Rail fans and plate aficionados, unite! Nebraska-based fans of the Union Pacific Railroad Museum can officially purchase license plates advertising the institution, the state having just received their 500th pre-order for the proposed design. The good news comes just in time to help celebrate Union Pacific's 150th anniversary this year.

The plate does not provide any revenue to the museum itself (which is located just across the river from Omaha in Council Bluffs, Iowa) and also does not benefit Union Pacific financially. Rather, the plate is being used solely as a promotional tool by fans and friends of the museum to celebrate UP's sesquicentennial. In fact, employees of the railroad were given the first shot at ordering the new design.

Union Pacific has been an extremely important fixture in Nebraska history since its founding under the aegis of an act originally signed by Abraham Lincoln, helping to move new residents and raw materials into the state during its territorial days. The railroad's hub in Omaha has always been a major source of business income for Nebraska, especially now that UP is the nation's largest rail carrier.

Following Nebraska's long-awaited passage of specialty plate laws two years ago, the new UP plate is only the second such issue (excepting the separately-legislated University of Nebraska "Huskers" plates) to reach the 500-order mark following Creighton University's successful effort. Creighton now has over 900 plates on the roads since their issuance began last year.

Sources: Omaha World-Herald March 10 article, UPRRM news post.

USA / News: Gold Star plates for Gold Star families

Here's an interesting article from the New York Times about Gold Star license plates and the soldiers and families they are intended to honor. The author details his experiences in trying (and failing) to receive a Gold Star plate from the state of Idaho, and the history he uncovered in the process. Currently, 34 of the 50 states issue Gold Star plates in some form, often with very different requirements in place.

Source: New York Times March 18 article.

Arizona / News: Specialty plates still safe for now

Arizona Centennial license plate, now over 3000 issued.
A concerted effort by one Arizona state representative to abolish the state's popular specialty license plate program has been stymied.

Rep. Steve Farley (D-Tucson) has been sponsoring a bill (HB 2313) in Arizona's House that, if passed, would abolish the creation and production of any future specialty plates, while allowing the current array of 60 designs to remain in production for five years and in use on vehicles indefinitely. The five-year limit would also apply to these plates' charity fundraising mission - after the time limit passes in 2017, any extra revenues from the remaining specialty plates on the road would go solely to the state's general fund.

Farley's reasoning is that the debate over whether to approve the design and mission of each new specialty plate takes valuable time and resources away from Arizona's legislature to work on other matters during each session. He also cites concerns from law enforcement that the vast number of different plates on the road make it difficult to decipher license numbers. However, it should be noted that Arizona has been among the most diligent states in regards to plate legibility, having redesigned a number of their specialty issues to improve contrast and even going so far as to ban the use of license plate frames that block the state name.

The bill's progress was halted by Rep. Michelle Ugenti (R-Scottsdale), who blocked further action on the bill after support for it began to falter outside of committee. Ugenti is herself the sponsor of a bill that would create a specialty plate for "fallen heroes" in honor of Pat Tillman. Farley has vowed to continue his efforts, having discussed the possibility of attaching his measure to another bill currently making its way through Arizona's Senate.

Arizona's most recent additions to the specialty plate ranks include their Centennial issue (celebrating Arizona's 100 years as a state), the "One Plate at a Time" issue benefiting hunger relief, a plate supporting Boy Scouts of America, a "Friend of 8" plate sponsoring Arizona's PBS network, and an In God We Trust plate that "promotes the national motto" according to the state's description.

Sources: Tucson Citizen Feb. 24 article, Arizona MVD specialty plate listing, Arizona data.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Colorado / New Plate Watch: Mesa State College Becomes Colorado Mesa University, But Will the Plate Follow Suit?

During 2011, Mesa State College in Grand Junction completed an upgrade to "university" status and has since been renamed as Colorado Mesa University. This is a fine achievement, and worthy of celebration. However, it poses a problem - will the former college's Colorado license plate be redesigned to match?

Since the Maverick mascot and school colors have not changed, all I'd expect to see is an adjustment in the text along the bottom. And Colorado DoR has, in fact, adjusted the name they list the plate under on their website. But these are the things that keep me up at night...what will the state do? When will they do it? As always, I'll stay on top of it and let you know.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Colorado / Plate Decoder: Red Plates

Continuing on the theme from yesterday, we'll delve into more of Colorado's code-lettered plates with the "red" series. While these still use the same basic mountain background as the more common green plates, these red plates tend to be geared toward fleet and commercial registrations.

APP ATK / Apportioned Truck. Like most other states, Colorado issues Apportioned plates to vehicles (usually heavy trucks) participating in the International Registration Plan. The IRP is a reciprocal agreement that allows participating US states and Canadian provinces to issue plates for cargo trucks and transit buses that are valid across borders. Vehicles so registered pay just one state's registration fees, which are then spread on a proportional basis to all the participating jurisdictions. Older Colorado Apportioned issues actually used the word "Apportioned" on the plate like most such states; when the state redesigned its plates for the next millennium, only the letters for each individual type were used at first (ATK, ATL, ATR and PRM). This apparently did not sit well with someone (most likely out-of-state law enforcement agencies), as it wasn't long before little stickers reading "APP" were applied to the top of each of these types to indicate their status as Apportioned plates. Then a couple of years ago, the plates were reworked to include the "APP" lettering on the right side of the plate, making this Colorado's only set of plates (for a little while, anyway) with two sets of code letters. (Check out Jim Moini's excellent Apportioned Plates site for a few more images of actual plates with the "APP" sticker.) This plate is for a truck that does not pull a trailer, such as a large Ryder or U-Haul moving van.

APP ATL / Apportioned Trailer. This plate differs from the PRM plate below in that it still requires yearly validation and carries stickers. All these APP plates, by the way, are interesting in that they're Colorado's most prominent current plates without a separator of some kind between the number and letter sections of the serial. Previous plates using this style were deemed "hard to read" by law enforcement, in that it was sometimes difficult to distinguish the two parts. The state had no choice in this case, since the "APP" section needed to be added for clarity of purpose.

APP ATR / Apportioned Tractor. As you'd guess, this one is for a truck tractor that's intended to pull a trailer - most other states would call it an "Apportioned Power" plate or something similar. I don't have a picture of the sample for this one, because Colorado's plate info page doesn't show it (and in fact, has very little info at all about their Apportioned plates - even the link they provide to the state statutes doesn't explain anything). Which means that I'm not sure if it's still offered, actually. Jim Moini's aforementioned site has a picture of an older example.

APP PRM / Apportioned Permanent. This is a trailer plate, different from the ATL plate above in that the owner pays a pro-rated fee in advance for a set number of years. As I understand it, these plates are assumed to be valid if attached to a trailer, and do not require stickers. The advantage to this is that the owner of the trailer doesn't have to track it down to slap new stickers on it every year, since it might be halfway across the country or buried deep in a freight yard.

FLT / Fleet. These can appear on a wide variety of vehicles, but you'll see them most often on regular passenger cars and light trailers. Fleet plates are only allowed for use by companies registering ten or more vehicles together, such as rental agencies. When these plates first appeared, they tended to carry validation stickers; that seems to no longer be the case and they'll most often be unstickered now. I've noticed that some of the more interesting letter combos ("words" or triple letters, for instance) tend to appear on FLT plates for some reason - not sure if that's intentional or not.

GVW / GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight Rated) Truck. This is what you'd call the "standard" heavy truck plate in Colorado, being used by default on any vehicle weighing 16,000 pounds or more (or alternatively, a truck weighing 10,000 pounds or more that would exceed 16,000 pounds in combination with a trailer). Thus, pretty much any truck bigger than a pickup will have one of these on it. These can be personalized up to seven characters, which requires them to be produced as a flat plate.

TVW / GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight Rated) Tractor. Like the GVW plate above, but for semi-truck tractors. Not sure why the state still feels it needs to produce two kinds of plates that serve almost the same purpose - especially when GVW plates vastly outnumber their TVW brethren. These can be personalized up to seven characters as well.

Additionally, there's one more "red" plate that isn't a coded plate like the above types, but it fits with the general theme...

Livery. Livery plates were introduced this year for the purpose of making it perfectly clear whether or not a limousine or town car is owned by a PUC-registered firm. (Taxicab plates will be appearing next year for the same sort of purpose.) By dint of their specialty-style design, with the "Livery" text along the bottom, all of these plates are produced as flats. These can also be personalized up to seven characters - in fact, I'm curious to know whether the vanity versions outnumber the serialized versions since so many limo services used standard vanity plates (which were eligible for direct transfer) before this new issue arrived.

Part three (the final countdown!) of this series will explore Colorado's often-mysterious blue plates.