Monday, March 22, 2010

More on Indiana's new unique plate numbering system

UPDATE, APRIL 29:  I'm late getting this posted, but I saw a couple of new farm truck plates last weekend, and they are now green on white, with numbers in the F123AB format.  I didn't get one number, but the other one I can confirm was F717BT.

UPDATE, APRIL 10:  Motorcycle plates, also once all-numeric, are now also being reissued with new numbers; apparently they are all starting with "M," with M284D verifiable as seen here.

To answer one question that I have been asked, it appears truck plates are being left alone.  They are all-numeric, but as there are more of those than the types being replaced, my gut feeling is that their numbering system won't be changed -- if it gets changed at all -- until the next regular reissue beginning in 2013.

UPDATE, MARCH 28:  Standard trailer plates are also being replaced with plates having a new numbering system.  I saw one today but was unable to get its entire number (I was practically past it before I even noticed it on the highway).  The plates, which have blue letters and numbers on a white background, have a "TR123ABC" serial format.

I'm getting more details on Indiana's new unique plate numbering system, including one plate type that most of us probably don't think too much about:  Semi trailers.

Spotters who've reported in at say that there are still two varieties of semi trailer plates, one which is revalidated annually and the other which is permanent.
  • Those with annual expirations are numbered in the following format:  SE123ABC
  • Permanent plates are numbered as follows:  SP123ABC
I've yet to see any of the new plates on the road, but I'm sure I will before too long.

In other news, the Indianapolis Star reported last week that all plates which are getting new numbering formats will be replaced by the end of this year.  Those will include RV, handicap and most other numeric-only plates.

Those specialty plates which have small, stacked letters (which is most of them) will be replaced in 2011.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Year decals, 1982-2011

For your convenience and enjoyment, I've created a guide to Indiana's year decals, beginning with the first in 1982 and continuing through the new 2011 decal.

From 1982 to 1992, the word "PASS" is repeated twelve times behind the two-digit year; all this means, simply, is "PASSENGER."  Different decals (usually with different color schemes) were created for RV plates, handicap plates and other varieties.  Unfortunately, those are now so rare that I have no idea what they look like.

There were actually two styles of decals used for 1998; both were black on deep yellow, although the earlier style was laid out more like the 1995-97 versions. Later decals were numbered to match the plate.

As noted in the image, year decals were used in 1999, 2004 and 2009 ONLY on specialty plates, and that wasn't even universal in those years.

Indiana making all plate numbers unique, dropping small letters on specialty plates

Evansville ABC affiliate NEWS25 (WEHT-TV) reports today that the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles is moving to make all license plate numbers unique.  Presently a number can appear on several different types of plates, which has caused confusion among law enforcement personnel.

In addition, specialty plates will lose their small letters, as I told you earlier this year.

Examples of the new plate numbering schemes are pictured.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

INDIANA LICENSE PLATE HISTORY TIDBIT #3 -- The story of the 1980 George Rogers Clark plate

The history of the George Rogers Clark plate is pretty much ... well, lost to history.  But its story is pretty neat, and worth retelling.

Issued in 1979, the Clark plate was the result of Indiana's first contest to design a license plate.  An article in the March 12, 1978 Evansville Sunday Courier & Press reported that 92 entries were received by state officials, who eventually chose the design submitted by William George Clark (a man with no known relation to George Rogers Clark), a retired toolmaker from Economy, Indiana.

Unlike more recent plate-design contests, Clark did receive a monetary award -- $100 -- and the number 1979 on his own plate.  Nowadays, winners get just a smile and maybe a handshake.

The 1978 article also explained that the rustic "Hoosier State" plate, which was first issued in 1981, had already been designed, but it was pushed back a year.  It had originally been intended to break cover in 1980.  That plate was the first in Indiana since 1955 to be used for more than one year.

Monday, March 1, 2010

INDIANA LICENSE PLATE HISTORY TIDBIT #2 -- Why plates ending in "9" and "0" were in high demand in '69

During the first week of January 1969, vehicle owners flocked to their nearest license branch, demanding plate numbers ending in "9" and "0," a phenomenon never seen before or since.

Why the sudden burning desire to have one of those two numbers?

Credit is due Indiana's then-new and long since repealed vehicle safety inspection law, which determined when a vehicle had to be inspected by the last digit of the license plate number.

You can read the Jan. 2, 1969 article from the now-defunct Evansville Press for the full details, but here's how it played out:
  • Motorists whose plates ended with "1" or "2" had to get their inspection done on or before March 31.
  • Plates ending in "3," "4" and "5" were due on April 30.
  • Plates ending in "6," "7" and "8" had to be inspected by May 31.
  • Finally, the "9" and "0" plates were due by June 30.
So there you go.  The "9" and "0" plates were popular among procrastinators!

And now you know ... the rest of the story!
NEXT TIME:  Find out the history behind the 1980 Indiana license plate which honored George Rogers Clark.  I'll even give you the name of the plate's designer!