Totally reliant on technology


PlatesFrom 1st October 2014 the tax disc (or road fund licence) is to be abolished, after 93 years. Vehicles will still be required to be taxed but there won’t be the familiar paper disc displayed on the windscreen. This is, according to the government, a move to reduce unnecessary paperwork and cut hassle, all leading to monetary savings. So what’s happening instead of the tax disc, how will we know if a vehicle is taxed or not?

The government say “most on-road enforcement action is now based on using Automatic Number Plate Readers. These cameras use the number plate rather than a visual inspection of the tax disc.” So, unless you have access to ANPR and the database you won’t know the tax status of any vehicle. Not important some may say, but wait, what about the “neighbour” who always had a “tax in the post” sticker on his screen or the one who just never bothered with road tax at all? You pay your road tax so why shouldn’t they? The government want us to report wrong-doers, but under this new system you won’t be able to.

There’s also another, more sinister, problem. As the checks are to be done using only the vehicle registration number this opens up opportunities for unscrupulous people (let’s call them criminals) to physically steal (or just clone) the number plates from a legitimately taxed vehicle and transfer them to their own (same make/model/colour). For all practical purposes they’d then be driving a taxed vehicle, and would only get caught if further checks (i.e. VIN or Vehicle Identification Number) were carried out, something that is beyond the scope of ANPR cameras. Maybe now it doesn’t seem quite such a good idea…

So, are we to expect a rise in the theft of number plates? Certainly those “security fasteners” (modified screws) that companies sell at somewhat inflated prices will become more of a necessity. It may encourage more people to tax their vehicles, or it may just encourage crime. It remains to be seen just how beneficial, or otherwise, this move turns out to be. One thing’s for sure though, I’ll be keeping an even closer eye on my number plates from October!

P.S.- What about those “funny” plates, the ones made to read like something other than the index number of the vehicle; ANPR cameras can’t cope with those, so the driver gets away with it..?



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