Trivia and Information on Life in America: Ask-A-Desi
section will attempt to address some of the Frequently
Asked Questions on Life in
the US, Canada and North America that immigrants, visitors
and others from different cultures attempt to address. If
you have any additional inputs or wish to see more
topics addressed, mail us at
License Plate lists interesting examples on the website
Cashflow. In Missouri, the state usually fills in any
spaces on a vanity plate with a "-". This
person has the most creative use of that little quirk
of state government I've seen. (I know this doesn't
really start with zero, but I don't know where else
to put it!)
more do you need to say? On a 1991 Red Convertible Corvette
with IL Plates
fellow, isn't he? On a 1991 ZR-1 Corvette
to be in LA or Love to be in LA since 0 is called love
in tennis, from the movie "LA Story"
and Driving Trivia: Custom plates
Most of the 50 states
allow vehicle owners to have cutomized number plates
for their vehicles.
In US, a number plate
is registered for the owner of the vehicle and not for
the vehicle itself. That means, if one decides to sell
the vehicle, he/she will retain the number plate and
use it for a different vehicle he/she would purchase
later. Person who bought this "used" vehicle
will have his/her own plate, fix it and run the vehicle!
Department of Motor Vehicles
(DMV) issues and regulates license-plates to all types
Every state will have
its own laws and rules governing the customized plates.
In some states, it's a free service while in some there
is a nominal annual fee. In Illinois state, it is free
if there is at least one digit in the pattern
(E.g "S JOSHI 3" as seen in the picture).
If all seven (maximum no. of characters allowed in any
state) are alphabets, then there is additional fee of
say 75$ per annum.
People use all intellect to
come up with unique fancy numbers like "XLR8" (accelerate),
"FXION8" (affectionate), "CMUTE"(commute)
and so on...
This episode began in 1979,
when a Los Angeles man named Robert Barbour sent in an application
to the Department of Motor Vehicles requesting personalized
license plates for his car. The DMV form asked applicants
to list three choices in case one or two of their desired
selections had already been assigned. Barbour, a sailing enthusiast,
wrote down "SAILING" and "BOATING" as
his first two choices; when he couldn't think of a third option,
he wrote "NO PLATE," meaning that if neither of
his two choices was available, he did not want personalized
plates. "BOATING" and "SAILING" had indeed
already been assigned, and the DMV, following instructions
literally, send Barbour license plates reading "NO PLATE."
Barbour was not thrilled that the DMV had misunderstood his
intent, but he eventually opted to keep the plates because
of their uniqueness.
Four weeks later he received his
first notice for an overdue parking fine, from faraway San Francisco,
and within days he began receiving dozens of overdue notices from
all over the state on a daily basis. Why? Because when law enforcement
officers ticketed illegally parked cars that bore no license plates,
they had been writing "NO PLATE" in the license plate
field. Now that Barbour had plates bearing that phrase, the DMV
computers were matching every unpaid citation issued to a car with
missing plates to him.
Barbour received about 2,500 notices
over the next several months. He alerted the DMV to the problem,
and they responded in a typically bureaucratic way by instructing
him to change his license plates. But Barbour had grown too fond
of his plates by then to want to change them, so he instead began
mailing out a form letter in response to each citation. That method
usually worked, although occasionally he had to appear before a
judge and demonstrate that the car described on the citation was
A couple of years later, the DMV
finally caught on and sent a notice to law enforcement agencies
requesting that they use the word NONE rather than NO PLATE to indicate
a cited vehicle was missing its plates. This change slowed the flow
of overdue notices Barbour received to a trickle, about five or
six a month, but it also had an unintended side effect: Officers
sometimes wrote MISSING instead of NONE to indicate cars with missing
license plates, and suddenly a man named Andrew Burg in Marina del
Rey started receiving parking tickets from places he hadn't visited
either. Burg, of course, was the owner of a car with personalized
plates reading "MISSING."!
- Which Way?
Have you ever wondered what
could be the logic behind street-name suffixes?
The suffixes generally are
alley, avenue, boulevard, circle, court, crescent, crossing,
dale, drive, extension, gardens, gate, heights, highway, lake,
lane, park, parkway, path, place, plaza, point, ridge, road,
roadway, square, street, trail... etc., to name a few.
You must have seen this plethora
of terms and reacted:
(1) We need some kind of system
(2) There should be some minimal
restrictions to protect the public interest.
(3) Whatever, I don't care.
There isn't any System
Reaction #3, has historically predominated
among the public officials in charge of these things, but reaction
#1 has occurred often enough to convince people there's some underlying
plan when in fact there isn't.
The most famous system is Manhattan's
grid (New York) of north-south avenues and east-west streets.
In Lansing (Michigan), they have
a system in place:
Cul-de-sacs (dead-end roads) are
named circle, court, way, or place
Meandering streets : drive, lane, path, trail
North-south streets : avenue, highway
Streets with planted medians : boulevard, parkway.
In Guilford County, North Carolina,
the system is:
North-south streets : street; East-west
: avenue (reverse of Manhattan logic); Diagonal : road; Dead-end
streets : terrace, point, cove, dale or way; Short curved roads
with ingress and egress from the same thoroughfare : circle.
Means, there is no detailed national
standard, One gross generalization is that long streets typically
are called avenue, street, highway, road, etc., while short ones
get terrace, court, place, and the like. But there are many exceptions
even to this simple rule.
The U.S. Postal Service, however,
has decided suffixes aren't worth worrying about. It merely requests
that street names be unique without regard to suffix, lest mail
carriers be confused if the suffix is left off. The agency adds
a few other reasonable guidelines, e.g., street names should sound
dissimilar to one another to avert mix-ups. These rules appear to
have been widely adopted by local officials.
Links of Interest
- Most states allow custom / vanity plates for a fee. Check out
your local DMV website. Examples are
Offences: For most people, the most likely encounter with the
law, might come in the form of traffic violations such as speeding
and accidents. While driving on any public road, one needs to
be prepared to be stopped by a police officer for speeding or
other traffic inspection. Most roads have speed markers prominently
placed, and the enforcement is quite rigorous with automatic speed
cameras and radars being increasingly used. - Mohan's