Reasons why number plates are used

Mandatory use of number plates for vehicles on British roads has been in force since the passing of the Motor Car Act 1903. However, why were the legislation and stipulation introduced? There are actually many logical reasons behind it, but we’ll take a look at a couple of the most important ones.


1. Identification and Ownership Verification


A world without number plates would be a chaotic place indeed. For one thing, there would be no way for a person to prove ownership of vehicles. Remember, the concept of number plates entails vehicle registrations and even chassis number. As such, if you next door neighbour has the same car model, he could simply switch cars with yours after getting his smashed up. And since there are 37.5 million vehicles in the country, there is really no definitive way for you to contest ownership of vehicles. Even if you’ve created a personal plate or unique identification mark, the thief could simply claim ownership of those marks as well.


In fact, even parking cars in public would be highly risky. People with the same car model could just drive into a car park with a battered car and leave with yours. And let’s not even start on sales and purchases of vehicles - you could literally lose tens of thousands of pounds in a blink of the eye. Many take DVLA for granted, but in the absence of DVLA’s registration marks, the country’s road transport system would crash.


Accusations galore in the absence of proof of ownership. Image courtesy of Pixabay.


2. Accidents and Crimes


In 2017, there were 170,993 cases of accidents reported in UK. Police reports, insurance claims and court cases all rely on the correct identification of vehicles involved in each incident. In the absence of number plates, there is no possible way for legal and civil actions to be taken. The current number of hit and runs accounts for an already high 12% of all accidents. Without a proper identification system, practically everyone involved in accidents would probably just drive off. In cases of fatalities, people might just leave their vehicles behind since there is no way to link them to the incident.


In addition, number plates are crucial when trying to identify or locate criminals – or even find stolen vehicles. Needless to say, they are equally vital in cases involving common traffic violations such as speeding and running red lights.