We all seen them. You may actually have one. The Vanity license plate. It can say a lot about the driver who owns the plate. I’ve personally never owned a vanity, but I’ve certainly seen my fair share.
Well, as it turns out, the vanity plate has come a fairly long way in a relatively short period of time. What was once an fairly low cost way to personalize your vehicle has now become big business.
After years of selling vanity plates as a modest sideline — charging as little as $5 — states think there’s more money to be made in whatever drives people to buy them. Facing budget crunches, states are raising surcharges or proposing annual fee hikes for custom plates.
Texas has gone a step further. It hired a private company to raise $25 million over the next five years by auctioning off vanity plates.
“People like to express themselves, especially in Texas,” says a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
In fact, vanity plates can boost self esteem for the simple reason that vanity plates say “who I am and what I want people to know about me”. It’s like a mission statement.
In turn, a paper published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology in 2008 found that drivers with vanity plates, bumper stickers and other “territory markers” were far more likely to use their vehicles to express rage — by honking, tailgating and other aggressive behavior.
This year, at the nation’s first such auction, Texas sold 33 plates for $139,400. That’s a hefty chunk of change!
However, don’t think that you can just get anything on those plates. I believe all states who allow vanity plates also regulate what you can and can’t express. States have long denied certain combinations of letters or numbers considered obscene or inappropriate, sparking battles with motorists….and well, some are just down, right dumb like: “3XWYVS,” “H8CATS” and “TROFYWIF.”
So, if you were going to get a vanity plate, what would it say? Leave me a comment below, let’s see how creative you can get!