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Will Alberta’s new licence plate make roads safer?

Posted on July 16, 2014 by Taber Times

With an over $15 million price tag, Albertans are invited to participate in an online survey now until Aug. 19 to choose which of three proposed designs will be featured on a new provincial licence plate starting in the spring of 2015. The design that receives the most votes will be selected as the new plate. According to a recent media release, Alberta’s new licence plate will incorporate a new design and new features to help make roads safer.

“I think it’s going to enhance safety, which is one of the primary reasons why we’re doing it. The new plate can be read by infrared equipment, more durable than the current licence plate, which is painted on so it can show signs of wear over time. It’s made through a more environmentally-friendly process. In terms of the safety features, the new licence plate will be easier to see during the day and at night and allow police to more easily identify unregistered or stolen vehicles,” said Jessica Johnson, director of communications for Service Alberta.

Alberta licence plates, according to the media release, are being updated to bring it in line with other jurisdictions across North America. The new plate will include Alberta’s new logo, the Alberta government’s website address “” and a reflective coating that makes the plate easier to see under low-light.

“We’re going to let the voting competition run over the summer and either at the end of summer or early in the fall we’ll announce which one the winning design was and then we’re going to do a little bit more testing, just to make sure no final tweaks need to happen, in terms of changing up colours and stuff. We’ll be working with law enforcement authorities just to make sure it works well with their equipment or continue to do that,” added Johnson.

Johnson said the provincial government estimates it will take approximately two-and-a-half-years to replace all 4.8 million plates in Alberta. Albertans can receive a new plate from their registry agent when they renew their registration during their regularly scheduled annual renewal, or they may purchase the new plate ahead of their regular renewal time for a fee. Annual vehicle registration will cost five dollars more to help cover the costs of production and implementation. Even with the increase, Alberta’s vehicle registration fees will still be about 11 per cent lower than the national average.

“The cost of the new plate, and it’s combined with the annual vehicle registration, will be $80. That’s a five dollar registration fee increase, which is going to help cover the cost of production and implementation for the new plate,” said Johnson, adding the cost of producing and rolling out the new licence plates will cost about $15 million dollars.

“Introducing the new plate, the reflective material that will go onto the new plate, will increase the cost of producing the plate by one dollar to a total cost of two dollars per plate but we believe those are reasonable costs given that they’ll improve road safety,” Johnson explained.

Other reasons for the plate change, it has been joked about around southern Alberta could be politically charged, since the Alberta wild rose symbol on the current licence plate could be considered more symbolic of the Wildrose party, rather than the Conservatives.

“My understanding is it has been in the works for a number of years and there is some safety issues with how much the old plates reflect in evening light. As for the Wildrose country being removed, I will let the public make there own comments. It’s not the end of the world to me, there is bigger issues in this province than that, which need to be dealt with,” said Ian Donovan, Little Bow MLA.

Another interesting aspect, Johnson said, is it is estimated there are about 165,000 unregistered vehicles on Alberta roads.

“Many of them are also uninsured. This will be a good way to get those unregistered vehicles off the road, as they start to be phased out,” added Johnson.

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