Personal plates

Nearly one in 10 of male drivers now have a number plate that carries their name or initials

13 January 2012

Nearly one in 10 of male drivers now have a number plate that carries their name or initials

Nearly one in 10 of male drivers now have a number plate that carries their name or initials

Nearly one in 10 of male drivers now have a number plate that carries their name or initials, AA research reveals. Overall, 11% of 18,138 AA members polled by the AA/Populus survey have a ‘special’ number plate – either bought from the DVLA or transferred from a previous car.

Women are far less impressed with only 5% driving with a plate that reflects their name or initials, as opposed to 9% of men. Overall, 8% of women have some type of cherished number plate compared to 13% of men.

Status value

The status value of a personalised number plate is most obvious when comparing across socio-economic groups. Among professionals, bosses and well-off drivers, 13% have a personal number plate with 9% owning one that carries their name or initials. That is nearly twice the level among semi and unskilled manufacturing and service workers (7%).

Witty number plates appear to be in short supply with only 0.4% of the sample owning a registration that spells a word and a further 0.4% personalising their plate to hide the true age of their car. The truth is that two-thirds of personalised number plates are there to stamp the driver's identity on the road.

Regional

Regionally, personalised number plate ownership is greatest in the North East at 17% and lowest in London at 9%. Areas of the UK where car owners are most likely to have their name or initials on their number plate are the North East at 12%, Scotland 10% and Wales 10%.

A 2007 survey of ‘vanity’ plate ownership in the United States and Canada found that the state with the highest percentage was Virginia 16.19%. In Canada, Ontario with 4.59% was the leading state for personalised number plates.

some motorists need personalised number plates to demonstrate a sense of individuality, to mark their success or even show the world that they have a sense of humour

Edmund King, AA president

Comment

Edmund King, AA president, says: “According to psychologists, some motorists need personalised number plates to demonstrate a sense of individuality, to mark their success or even show the world that they have a sense of humour. For some, however, behind the conscious motivations lie unconscious needs or desires, driving them to put on a show to the rest of the world. For others the plate is merely to keep up with the Joneses and disguise the age of the car.”

Driver opinion in the UK tends to be split between those who see personal number plates as a bit of fun and those trying to read something into the owner’s personality. Unfortunately, the limitations of the UK number plate system mean that interpreting a personal number plate doesn’t quite have the scope of the US system where psychologists have attributed:

  • A fear of failure - plates that have money or success references
  • A fear of being ignored - plates that have first name, surnames or initials included
  • A fear of impotence - plates that have big or sexual innuendo
  • A fear of being boring - funny plates
  • A fear of being ordinary - plates that include car names, numbers

Fame on a plate – quiz:

  1. Which football club owner has VIP 1 and how much did he pay?
  2. Who owns DB7 and what car does it adorn?
  3. How much was HRH 1?
  4. Which football has WAZ8 on his car?
  5. Who is MAG 1C?

(2 February 2012)

Answers:

  1. Roman Abramovich paid £285,000 for the registration plate “VIP 1”
  2. David Beckham on an Aston Martin
  3. £113,815
  4. Wayne Rooney (known as Wazza)
  5. Paul Daniels